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Yesterday, it emerged that the three freshmen at Ole Miss who vandalized a statue of James Meredith with a noose and a confederate flag had all recently joined the school's chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon. When this came to light, SigEp struck fast and hard. The Ole Miss chapter voted to expel all three freshmen, and the national organization has indefinitely suspended the chapter pending an internal investigation.
"We won’t allow the actions of a few men to undermine the more than five decades of leadership this fraternity has demonstrated in the fight for racial equality and diversity on our college campuses,” said SigEp CEO Brian C. Warren.
The fraternity expressed shock and embarrassment at the behavior of the three.
“It is embarrassing that these men had previously identified with our Fraternity. SigEp as a national Fraternity has championed racial equality and issues on diversity since 1959 when it became the first national fraternity to invite members of all races, creeds and religions to join its membership,” said Warren. “For this to occur in 2014 is an insult to the legacy of James Meredith, The University of Mississippi community, and the SigEp alumni who fought for racial equality in the late 1950s.”
When the three freshmen's involvement came to light, the chapter voted all three of them out in short order and turned over their identities to investigators. Apparently they didn't help their cause by skipping out on a planned meeting with investigators on Thursday morning. A patently stupid move in my view--all they had to do once they showed up was plead the Fifth.
It may seem like suspending the whole chapter is a bit harsh after it drummed these three out. But what if someone else knew about it and didn't do anything? You simply cannot tolerate that.
School officials say that they have enough evidence to bring charges against them in the student judicial system. Criminal charges are still possible, though it will be pretty difficult to prove that a threat was intended or implied. Still, I'll be content with these three being booted off campus.
9:47 AM PT: Just to be clear--I think suspending the chapter was more than justified, if only because it's VERY likely someone else in the fraternity knew what these three were planning to do and didn't report it.