Editor’s Note: This is a developing story. This article includes expletive language. The content of this article might be upsetting to some readers. Resources for UR students include CAPS, at CAPS@richmond.edu or 804.289.8119 and UR’s Bias Incident Response.
This article has been updated to include UR President Kevin Hallock's response to the incident.
The University of Richmond is investigating a video from the 2019-2020 academic year depicting members of the Beta Beta chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity chanting racist remarks and singing along to “Dixie’s Land,” the de facto anthem of the Confederacy.
An anonymous email containing the video was sent Friday night to The Collegian, Steve Bisese, vice president of student development, and two former Center for Student Involvement employees who managed Greek life. UR administrators will take action based on the findings of the investigation, Bisese wrote in an email to The Collegian.
UR President Kevin Hallock wrote in an email to the UR community that the administration is in the process of identifying the people in the video who are still students.
"The behavior recorded in the video is shameful and despicable," Hallock wrote in the email sent today. "I am appalled by what I have seen and heard. This is not who we are, nor who we aspire to be."
Will Heinle, a junior and Kap Sig president, said a member recorded the incident in the fall of 2019 before he joined the fraternity. However, two juniors and former members of Kap Sig Liam Dugan and Evan Wladkowski — who were present when the video was recorded — said a member filmed the video after they had been offered bids in the spring of 2020. Dugan and Wladkowski said they disaffiliated from Kap Sig because of the fraternity’s persistent problem with racism and disregard for COVID-19 restrictions.
Heinle said he didn't know whether UR’s administration or Kappa Sigma Fraternity Headquarters had been made aware of the incident when it happened.
The video features senior and Kap Sig member Josh Arcidiacono chanting, “the South will rise again,” as others in the video clap along. A person can be heard in the background saying, “long live the Union.” Cans of beer, solo cups, playing cards and a TV playing images of confederate soldiers can also be seen in the video.
Another member of the fraternity, senior Noel Lora-Martinez, joined Arcidiacono in his chant. About 24 seconds into the video, Arcidiacono stood up and shouted: “I want to be a slave owner!”
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The acts recorded in the video took place after a drinking game called “Civil War,” Heinle wrote in a Dec. 18 email to The Collegian. Executive members of the fraternity in 2019 put Arcidiacono and Lora-Martinez on social probation, Heinle wrote in his statement.
“We were joking around pretending to be the confederates versus the Union,” Arcidiacono wrote in an email to The Collegian. “Obviously, these jokes were inappropriate and made in very bad taste. I’m ashamed of my actions here and regret that this happened.”
Lora-Martinez declined The Collegian’s request for comment.
Zach Clarke, who was president of the fraternity in the fall of 2019, declined The Collegian’s request for comment.
Ethan Libo, who was president of the fraternity in the spring of 2020, declined The Collegian’s request for comment. Libo cited his disaffiliation from the fraternity as his reason to refrain from commenting on the incident.
Arcidiacono and Lora-Martinez are still part of the fraternity. Lora-Martinez was president of the fraternity last February when it temporarily ceased operations because of a report of an in-person event, a violation of UR’s COVID-19 restrictions at the time.
Although only five people’s faces can be seen in the video, Dugan and Wladkowski said there were other members of the fraternity present when the incident occurred. Both Dugan and Wladkowski said they had been intoxicated when the events took place and were ashamed of their actions. In the video, Dugan pointed at the camera and shook his head as he said no. He can also be seen clapping and singing along to “Dixie’s Land.”
“I feel horrible that I'm even associated with what happened,” Dugan said. “This was an extreme breach of trust, and I feel extremely upset that this even occurred because it’s fully against all my values.”
Even though Wladkowski is not pictured in the video, he said he had felt it was important to address the systemic racism in Greek Life, which he started reflecting on when the Abolish Richmond Greek Life movement emerged in July of 2020.
“[The movement to abolish Greek Life] caused me and several others to sort of reevaluate our position in the fraternity and really take a hard look at the behaviors that were going on,” he said.
Heinle said that out of the five people visible in the video, three — one being Dugan — ended up leaving the fraternity for different reasons.
“The matter has been dealt with internally at our own initiative,” Heinle said. “And a number of the brothers in the video no longer represent the fraternity today. The words said in the video do not represent the values of Kappa Sigma.”
Despite Heinle’s statements about Dugan’s departure from the fraternity being unrelated to the incident in the video, Dugan said he left the fraternity in the spring of 2021 after realizing that attempts to reform the racist behavior were futile.
“It was clear that Greek Life, essentially whether it be Kap Sig and or just Greek life in general, was extremely problematic, and that [Dugan and Wladkwoski] could not be a part of it,” Dugan said.
Several text messages obtained by The Collegian between Dugan and Wladkwoski from June until August of 2020 demonstrate that members of the fraternity, including Arcidiacono and Lora-Martinez, had discussed the contents of the video during that period of time.
Kappa Sigma Fraternity Headquarters did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment.
Copy chief Madyson Fitzgerald contributed to reporting.
Contact editor-in-chief Jackie Llanos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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