SAE suspended after racial slur in pledge activity

| Editor-in-Chief

The scavenger hunt list provided to the SAE pledges shown in a photo provided by an anonymous member of the fraternity; relevant passages have been highlighted by the editor.


All Sigma Alpha Epsilon activities have been suspended after a pledge activity turned racially inflammatory.

Several black students eating dinner at Bear’s Den Tuesday night were approached by a group of fraternity pledges who took a picture of a pledge brother standing behind the diners as part of a pledge scavenger hunt.

Later, another SAE pledge began reading the lyrics to Dr. Dre’s “B—— Ain’t S—” in slam-poetry style for the same scavenger hunt. According to a copy of the scavenger hunt instructions, the pledge could also have chosen Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz’s “Get Low.” Both songs contain multiple uses of the N-word.

Sophomore Fade Oluokun said he and the other black students sitting at the table were confused and startled by the pledges’ actions.

After the pledge read the racial slur in the song lyric, Oluokun said he left the table to distance himself from the situation.

“[I] just thought it would be best if I walked away before I did something that I wouldn’t like doing,” Oluokun said. “We weren’t really doing anything. We were just kind of taken aback by it all.”

According to a written account by senior Kayla Webb, the pledge who recited the inflammatory lyrics later approached the group of black students and apologized.

SAE is currently operating under a cease-and-desist order from its national organization, and Washington University has indefinitely suspended all of the chapter’s activities as it continues to investigate the incident.

Fraternity president and junior Michael Zissman apologized for the actions on a Facebook thread but did not provide additional comment.

Inter-Fraternity Council president and junior Joe Craig issued a statement distancing the students’ actions from the council and chapter of SAE.

“The actions of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledges are not consistent with our values, or the values of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and we are confident that the responsible parties will be disciplined accordingly,” Craig wrote. “The exact details of the incident are being investigated, and we have no doubt that the necessary steps will be taken to create an environment in which individuals can learn from the mistakes made in the past and attempt to move forward in creating a more understanding and accepting community. Our community’s next steps are to focus on healing and bringing the underlying issues of this incident to light.”

Sharon Stahl, vice chancellor for students, said in a campus-wide email Wednesday that the behavior is entirely discordant with the University’s belief in diversity.

“It’s very important to understand what happened, and we’re in the process of determining that right now in as prompt and thorough a manner as possible,” Stahl told Student Life. “What happened last night is a very serious thing to happen in our community just because it’s not who we are. I’ve been a working part of this community since 1988, so this isn’t just a place I work—this is my family.”

SAE’s national headquarters said in a statement that it apologized for the members’ actions and is collaborating with the University to find more details.

Lucy Morlan, assistant director of Student Involvement and Leadership for Greek Life, said her office is continuing to investigate the incident to make sure it responds properly.

“This is obviously…nothing we’d want for this campus, but we also want to give the investigation its due process and make sure we get the full picture and figure out the best way to make change. We want to be purposeful about a proper response about moving forward and how to address this and make sure it stops happening so all students feel safe and like they’re being treated fairly,” Morlan said. “Some people want swift action, but we need time to make sure we handle it well since this is a situation that’s impacting so many people, so we want to pay respect to all constituents.”

Sophomore Reuben Riggs, president of the Association of Mixed Students, said the incident is an unfortunate sign that the group has a long way to go in promoting an accepting campus atmosphere.

He said that he personally considers the slur symptomatic of a wider campus culture that tolerates casual discrimination.

“This is beyond an individual incident. This is beyond SAE, beyond Greek Life. This is a Wash. U. problem,” Riggs said. “They’re from a culture that allows it and deems it to be OK, which is why I think there needs to be a really strong reaction.”

“Clearly it’s a derogatory song, but also there are homophobic parts to it, and in the title itself it’s very misogynistic and anti-feminist,” Riggs said. “We’re going to support [the Association of Black Students] and the black community but also help the community see that this is not just the black community’s problem but other communities’ problem as well.”

An SAE pledge who spoke under the condition of anonymity claimed that the scavenger hunt activity had no objective of racist conduct.

“The scavenger hunt was in no way created with poor intentions but rather to allow the pledge class to bond as they explored the [Delmar] Loop and the SAE house,” the pledge said. “The student chosen to read the song was chosen because of his involvement in slam poetry. The picture of the students at the table was in fact a picture of the student standing in the corner—a running joke amongst the pledge class. “

“It is entirely understandable how the event could be misconstrued, and I can say with absolute certainty that every member of SAE is saddened by what happened,” the student added. “However, the extent to which these rumors have spread and the degree to which innocent and unsuspecting, albeit sometimes stupid, freshmen are being persecuted is horrifying.”

The incident attracted national media attention Wednesday when it was picked up by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Huffington Post, among other news outlets. A letter condemning the students’ actions and calling for harsh University action began circulating via social media and gathering signatures from alumni.

“We’re extremely confident that the chancellor will do everything in his power to ensure that the facts are determined and that those involved receive whatever punishment they deserve,” said Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis City branch of the NAACP. “But in the meantime we will be looking over everybody’s shoulders to try to see what’s going on and to make sure the incident is given the proper attention. And so far it sounds like that is the case.”

“I would hope we use it as a lesson to teach sensitivity…and we utilize this as a lesson to try to heal any damage than anybody may have received from it rather than trying to turn [it into] something that creates a significant negative overture on the University and the makeup of its student body,” he added.

SAE is the third fraternity to be dissolved or suspended this academic year. Sigma Alpha Mu lost its charter in July due to alleged hazing and drug abuse. Sigma Phi Epsilon was suspended in November after violating University policy.

In 2006, SAE was put on probation after several members were taken into custody for selling marijuana. After failing to meet expectations for its return, SAE lost University recognition in 2007 before regaining its house in 2010.

Senior Lamley Lawson, president of the African Students Association, and senior Claudia Gambrah, president of ABS, both said their organizations were not ready to provide statements Wednesday. They plan to release their respective statements on Thursday. The statement from ABS can be found here: http://www.studlife.com/forum/2013/02/28/abs-statement-on-sae-pledge-incident/

Tamara King, director of Judicial Programs, and Michael Hayes, director of Greek Life, could not be reached for comment.

SEE SAE’S OFFICIAL STATEMENT, MADE ON MARCH 1 HERE: http://www.sae.net/missouribetastatement

With reporting by Divya Kumar, Caroline Ludeman, Sahil Patel and Sadie Smeck.

UPDATED 9:22 P.M.: Added links to statements from SAE and ABS.

  • william

    Is StudLife ever gonna report that:

    The song and the photo incidents happened AN HOUR APART with TWO SEPARATE GROUPS OF PLEDGES in DIFFERENT PARTS OF BD.
    or
    The song wasn’t directed at the African-American students, but rather being sung at another table. And that “photographing” of them wasn’t even happening, but that only the kid singing was being filmed by his pledge brothers
    or
    That one of the pledges actually walked over and stopped the kid mid-song
    or
    That the photo of the pledge in the corner was taken as an inside because the kid in the corner had to stand in the corner during on of their meetings…and that the photo was actually of that pledge.
    or
    That they cropped the photo of the pledge when it was on their homepage to make it look more controversial.

    The Answer: Probably not, because those details make this entire “incident” way less juicy, and, as we know, StudLife cares less about reporting the truth and more about making gossip and ruining reputations.

  • Urkiddingmeright

    “They took my picture. RACIST!”

    “They sang a popular song near me. RACIST!”

    “Of course we wouldn’t be pursuing this story at all if the pledges were black. NOT RACIST!”

  • a_sad_day

    Oh the torture! The pain! Our beloved fraternity’s name is tarnished, life will never be the same at Wash U again. So what? The internet is filled with articles which slander every type of organization. If it wasn’t a big deal as some people say then the fraternity has the truth on it’s side. Oh wait, they apologized and denounced the event. I guess regardless of public opinion they and the school think its a big deal but I don’t see any one going to their offices and illuminating their judgement. The safety behind the computer display is more appealing I suppose. American has short term memory loss. Next month when some look-alike from the jersey shore is spotted on campus, this will be but a forgotten memory so grab a tissue and dry your eyes.

    • John Doeberman

      The reason why it’s still a big deal is that the judicial actions have not yet come to pass.
      There are still many decisions to be made by the University as to how these events will be handled, not merely a question of the perception of a student organization. This may have severe ramifications.
      Many of us do not have the luxury of being able to simply walk into the University office to voice our opinions directly. We simply have mail for letters, and the public forum of the “newspaper” that broke the story.

      • silenced

        Not having luxury is an interesting choice of words. For those not on campus or in the vicinity it is understandable but for all else, not having the luxury sounds like a dictatorship. During the semester, I never noticed that entering any office building to voice my opinion as a student was off limits or carried a penalty. Interesting view you have there…. :)

  • Anonymous

    I’m amazed this is still such a huge deal around campus, given the more recent facts. It is clear that the focus of the picture is on the student in the corner, and that the “racial slurs” were lyrics to a song being recited a table over from the black students (not directed AT the students, as the original report had implied). All of this controversy was spawned by literally nothing more than a white male reciting lyrics to a song. Granted, inappropriate language was included, but the situation would never have reached this point had the pledge not been white. The cause that the black community at Wash U has been trying to achieve for years has lost much of its credibility after how they handled this event.

  • Outrageous

    Interesting,

    “black student:
    Have you spoken with anyone that was at the incident or has been affected by this? Have you seen there emotions and the stress that you have caused? There are students who feel that they cannot talk to their non-black friends because of the racial tensions that this event has caused and the social media response. People are questioning if they should accept their race or not because of how harshly they are being judged. People are losing sleep and feel unsafe on campus. There were clear intensions about what happened because of the fact that the group came to the same area where the black students had been sitting for 30 minutes and then decided to do the rap there. If the student didn’t really do anything wrong, then why would his fellow pledges tell him to stop once they saw the black students react? Why would the perpetrator apologize to those that he wronged and say that he clearly understood the gravity of the situation? Suspension is a just call because it can bring peace to those and let the university show that it will do all it can to protect their minority population from feeling threatened while paying money, sometimes full tuition, to attend this school.”

  • lord voldemort

    I got it! A solution to this entire mess. Let’s not make ignorant comments in public which may be offensive to groups? Don’t walk into groups of people and use terms that are offensive. For people that don’t understand this it is called manners or for the intellectuals PC and one more idea, let’s discipline rude,ignorant students and maybe even the groups that foster ignorance? I understand the free speech argument but if you believe so strongly in it sue TV, radio, and other censorship groups. It is the hardest thing in the world to understand for people with no manners.

  • Jason Park

    Dear educators, students, and leaders of Washington University:

    What is education for?

    What values do we wish to learn, perform, and teach for the rest of our lives?

    The incident was brought to my attention in my class last Wednesday, a seminar that comprises mostly black students. Some of my classmates were present at Bear’s Den at the time, and as a class, we shared feelings, discussed a wide range of implications of the incident, and carried out an engaging, constructive conversation involving a variety of perspectives. It was a safe space for everyone, hence I refrain from disclosing details of that discussion in this letter. But I have seen some of my classmates—who I deeply respect and love—shaking in tears and frustration.
    The next day, another friend of mine showed up at work in tears, barely putting herself together to help patrons at Olin library.
    On Friday, after attending the Association of Black Students’ general body meeting to hear their voices, sentiments, and opinions on the incident, I read this comment on Studlife by an anonymous writer:
    Ummm I was just wondering if anyone’s mind has actually been changed by all these postings, status updates, tweets, and articles? Has anyone been like, you know what, I have been wrong this wholeee time. I honestly don’t think this has happened so I suggest we all keep our unchanging opinions to ourselves, take a breather and remember that our professors aren’t going to give us better grades because our school is going through this so start reforming study groups and let’s all get into medical school. We’ll look back on all of this and…well maybe not laugh but at least we won’t want to kill each other over it.
    And today, another friend of mine who has been seriously involved in social justice issues on campus for the past four years, and who has been courageously vocal to help sensitize fellow students to the racial implications of the incident both online and offline, was told that his opinions are invalid because he is “too privileged”. My friend is a proud member of ABS, and also the LGBTQ community at WashU.
    Ever since I saw my classmates in tears on Wednesday, I tried my best to engage in as many conversations as possible with students from different backgrounds, and I tried to understand what has been going on with all the knowledge, skills, and wisdom that came from you. My learning came from accomplished, remarkable professors who went beyond simply providing information. It often came from brilliant, compassionate fellow students who are capable of incredible things. This environment is kept well, both administratively and aesthetically, by workers of all color who truly care about our community.
    But looking at the university wide response to the incident, I wonder, was my education just a formality to obtain jobs, to care only about myself? Was WashU education just a superficial waste? Can we call ourselves educated when we can carry out so much ignorance, violence, and detachment even with members of our own community?
    Here are some of the observations, opinions, and questions for you, who have created, maintained, and improved this environment for learning thus far, and who have taught me the value of intellectual thinking, the value of social justice, the value of democracy, the value of citizenship, the value of community, the value of empathy, and the value of love.
    I do not understand why so much time, energy, and effort are spent on accurate investigation and punishment. Shouldn’t we first find ways to apologize to students who were victimized and demonstrate that they are just as welcome as everybody else on campus? There are very few efforts to console our friends on campus, but insensitive criticisms are rampant online. The anonymity not only allows students to hide behind their insensitivity, but it also breeds fear on campus. Imagine walking through campus thinking that any one of your fellow students can be racist, or is capable of caring very little about your suffering. Imagine there are dozens of students like that. Maybe there are more.
    Is it really more important to intellectually correct others’ comments anonymously, or spend hours arguing over how “big” this incident really was, than to walk up to a student who was affected by the incident (it could be some members of ABS, women, other minority students, or anyone, considering the song that was performed) and simply say “I am sorry for what happened. I just wanted to let you know that not everyone at WashU is ignorant or racist, and I want to make sure that you feel safe here. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you”? Isn’t this something anybody on campus can do in two minutes?
    In 2009, six WashU students were denied entrance to a bar because they were black; only after switching their attire with white friends, changing their baggy jeans to more “appropriate” clothing, they were let in. This led to a huge campus wide discussion of racism. Where did that moment of education go?
    Why do we distance ourselves from what happened? Some do this by minimizing the severity of the incident, saying “it’s just a song,” or “it’s just a dumb freshman.” I know that I am guilty for saying insensitive things, sometimes even engaging in acts of microaggression for cheap laughter. And I am willing to admit that this is a serious issue, and spending time with students who were affected by the incident allowed me to reflect on my careless behavior and strive for growth.
    How can we say the incident was nothing serious, when our fellow students are in tears, when they fear the rest of the student body, when countless racist comments are presented to them online every day? How can we tell those students who were affected by the incident how to feel, before understanding their grievances and helping them feel better? What kind of education are we getting here?
    Other students, like the studlife comment quoted in the beginning of this letter shows, prioritize homework and other professional obligations over being engaged in constructive conversations about race and social justice, or fellow students’ well-being on campus. How can we be leaders or important members of our society after graduation when such an individual work ethic trumps the needs of our community? How can we have “global” aspirations when we can’t care for students who we interact with on a daily basis?
    This is not a Black and White issue, and it’s not a Greek Life issue. We all know that we have a very separated community, and we are all part of a culture that allows room for careless microaggression and distancing from marginalized groups on campus. This culture allows for cases of sexual assault, racial slurs, and other forms of exclusion and violence which will continually haunt our community. This is a WashU issue.
    I am also curious on how faculty members in Anthropology, American Culture Studies, African and African American Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Social Work, Political Science, and other disciplines in social science and the humanities are being involved. Many students do not know what to do, who to turn to for support. Faculty members in these disciplines are “experts” in social justice. Even apart from their intellectual expertise, you have been around on this campus for much longer than the student body, whose memory, grasp of the administrative power structure, and experience are severely limited. You have the power and authority to bring students’ attention to the incident in class. You can also cut out homework assignments, or provide extensions for students who are willing to be involved further into this issue, which I believe will be a significant learning experience. You can actually reach out to many students and also work with the administration on different levels.
    Lastly, it is my sincere hope that the administration does not prioritize its public marketing concerns for fundraising and admissions and minimize the seriousness of the incident. What happened last Wednesday, and also the nature of student body’s response fully demand prolonged commitment for establishing safe, wide platforms for constructive discussion, policy change, and general improvement of WashU culture. This is far more important than infrastructural development.
    My name is Sang One (Jason) Park, and I am a Korean international student. I want to be a proud graduate of Washington University in May, and I hope our community’s response to what happened last Wednesday does justice not only to my family’s financial and emotional struggles that went into my education, but also to countless lives outside of our community whose well-being depend on our values, care, and commitment.
    Thank you.

    • hithere

      I agree with you but I think you need to look at why things happened the way they did:
      – Students felt targeted attacked
      – The individuals that caused these feelings apologized
      – The targeted students were not satisfied and told the public
      – The University reacted with implications of severe punishment
      – Supporters of those targeted demanded the University follow through with those actions
      – Supporters for the fraternity pledges thought this was overboard given the events/evidence
      – The two groups remain highly divided which has prevented meaningful discussion

      I think if the targeted students had demanded a conversation versus punishment things could have ended a lot differently. Hindsight is 20/20 and maybe its unreasonable to expect that during the heat of the moment but hopefully this serves as a invaluable learning experience for all those involved.

    • My Two Cents

      Maybe I am missing something, but didn’t the kid who sang the song, go back and apologize? And now many are trying to get him suspended. I am not saying South Africa is the perfect example of how to overcome genocide/racism, but it has been much more successful that other countries that have attempted it.
      I think a lot of it was because of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. In a revolutionary way to move forward the people who committed the crimes apologized and the victims were there to meet them and listen. While in part the apologies were to escape jail time, in the long run they created a road to recovery, equality, and forgiveness.

      I am not saying thr the ABS is speaking for all the victims, or all the african students at WashU, but that is very much how it is coming across. When they are demanding suspensions of kids it seems like it is ignoring the progress that the TRC actually were able to accomplish.

      The students felt progress when he found a safe environment to discuss the topic, freshman and sophomore floor dorms seem ideal. Then the constructive conversation that Jason talked about might be able to be spread to others.

      I believe there is a fear of suspension at WU, like imprisonment at the end of Apartheid is the least effective tool to create a change. Maybe the pledge class and those were felt offended should work together to create plays based on very similar circumstances to be shown to the next freshman class. The ABS, Princeton Voices and the voices of everyone should be able to say the n-word, and especially the SAE members associated with the event. If they could come together and share what lessons should be taken from this event, I think it would do the most to bring and end to the tension. While all three or more parties have very different beliefs in how this should be dealt with. I feel like the moral lesson cannot be that different for them. Despite the differences in other aspects.

      tl;dr learn from the past so we are nto forced to repeat the same mistakes. Turn a negative event into a positive with how the next generation at WashU can be taught from it

      • wryss

        Am I really the only one who thought this person’s writing was confusing?

        • jj

          “The ABS, Princeton Voices and the voices of everyone should be able to say the n-word, and especially the SAE members associated with the event.”

          I am pretty sure the author didn’t mean to write that; I understand your confusion.

      • hithere

        Yes, it is only you. His points were clear to me.

    • Jon

      I am a person who has agreed with much of what the black community has said throughout this ordeal, but who has strongly opposed the way they’ve decided to deliver their messages and share their perspective (I’ve found it painfully hostile and accusatory, making people who would have otherwise been open to discussion eager, instead, to defend accusations of being uneducated, overprivileged, and racist.)

      And why am I writing anonymously? Because I am not racist. I am on your side, but if I provide an alternative opinion, I will be called a racist. It is terribly exhausting to be accused of being racist by people you consider your allies.

      “I do not understand why so much time, energy, and effort are spent on accurate investigation and punishment.”

      We spend a lot of time on accurately investigating incidents to ensure the facts are true. On Wednesday morning, students were claiming that SAE was on a n—- hunt. This was not true, but created so much outrage that could not be reassessed once more concrete facts were revealed.

      “Shouldn’t we first find ways to apologize to students who were victimized and demonstrate that they are just as welcome as everybody else on campus?”

      I challenge you to find someone on this campus who is not welcoming of minority groups at this school. Yes, there are tables in the DUC or Bear’s Den that self segregate, but those are meals. Look at the teams/groups/organizations on campus that foster friendships between people of all races, religions, orientations, backgrounds, etc. Those friendships are in so very many places.

      “There are very few efforts to console our friends on campus, but insensitive criticisms are rampant online.”

      Criticism has come from all sides. Students, white and black, are both to blame for hurling violent remarks at each other.

      “Is it really more important to intellectually correct others’ comments anonymously, or spend hours arguing over how “big” this incident really was, than to walk up to a student who was affected by the incident (it could be some members of ABS, women, other minority students, or anyone, considering the song that was performed) and simply say “I am sorry for what happened. I just wanted to let you know that not everyone at WashU is ignorant or racist, and I want to make sure that you feel safe here. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you”? Isn’t this something anybody on campus can do in two minutes?”

      You’re implying that the people who performed this song were ignorant or racist. The performed a song that popular culture has said is “OK.” Do not blame them; create a better mechanism for education (a mechanism that should be created across the university, not within our ABS organization).

      “I know that I am guilty for saying insensitive things, sometimes even engaging in acts of microaggression for cheap laughter.”

      If you know you are guilty, you should also be willing to suspend yourself. This is a mistake so, so many of us have made. Suspending just a handful of students for this scenario is not a set in there right direction.

      “How can we say the incident was nothing serious, when our fellow students are in tears, when they fear the rest of the student body, when countless racist comments are presented to them online every day?”

      I’ve seen a lot of people asking to stop being told that they are racist. I have not seen that many racist comments. I’m confused. I completely understand the discomfort this situation has created within the black community, but what I have trouble grasping is how, in the face of all the facts, this so very drastically different than numerous other performances. And maybe this wasn’t fully an ‘artistic performance,’ but that’s why I said “so very drastically.”

      To reiterate (hoping that all hope has not yet been lost within my own community), I agree with many opinions, but I wish this scenario could have shown that my peers know how to deliver a message in a better way.

  • anonymous

    Oh Lordy

  • furiousalum

    In light of the ABS letter referenced at the bottom of this article, I have written a letter to the administration detailing my pledge to cease all my donations if ABS’s punishment demands are met. I have spoken with fellow alums and they intend to do the same.

    • exasperated student

      Yes let’s suspend him because he’s white and sung a Dr. Dre song. Perfectly rational. If he were black and sung the song it would be no big deal, but here you are targeting him because of the color of his skin. In fact, let’s make a new policy: white people are not allowed to sing rap music any more, because they only ever do it out of racist intent.

      • victimized

        Targeted because of the color of his skin? White profiling? Wouldn’t that be the day. Black disrespect is now white discrimination, only at a eurocentric majority:)

      • hithere

        Not saying its present in this case but discrimination and prejudice are definitely able to affect all races. Just because a group makes up the majority doesn’t make it immune to insult or attack. If you don’t agree, pause, and think about how ridiculous that assertion sounds.

        • Anonymous

          I don’t see where they mentioned immunity or lack of possibility of white discrimination. It sounds like the point was the absurdity of it. Black students taking offense about a situation and wanting actions taken to stop and prevent this behavior slowly evolves into anti-white propaganda. Remind me of the time period for the fight against non-white hegemony in the white civil rights movement in America again?

          • hithere

            Like I said, I wasn’t making a judgement on whether this was case of white discrimination. I was merely stating that it can occur so please don’t immediately deem it as invalid just because the color of someone’s skin.

            If history is your metric in determining whether an act is racist/bigoted/prejudiced its a bad one. Those horrendous acts do not a historical context by which to act.

    • exasperated student

      Wow, I apologize. I completely misread your comment and thought it meant the opposite of what it did.

      • hithere

        If you have 100s/1000s of alumni saying they will never give to the University that could potentially mean tens of millions of dollars in lost donations. That’s not an insignificant amount of money. Given the fact that minority students rely more on financial aid (which is not an inherently negative thing, just a fact) this could potentially harm them disproportionately, effectively causing negative consequences for their groups.

        I don’t think these alums have racist intentions. Rather they want fairness in justice. Suspension/expulsion go far beyond what is reasonable.

    • wryss

      Hopefully this comment means you are donating millions and or at least 500k so that the university will actually care. Last I checked they are trying to raise billions. I’d really hope that the university will do what they deem is RIGHT, not what ABS wants or what people with deep pockets want. If they do not act in a just manner simply because they are afraid of losing donations or have a desire to placate some of their students, then we have much bigger problems on our hands.

  • Hithere
    • Red

      Best WUnderground article I’ve ever read.

  • Calm Down Please

    So, the first thing about this song that should be noted is that it’s full of foul language. It’s a 5 minute song in which b– is used 25 times, s– is used 16 times, f–is used over 10 times, and h–s is used 10 times as well. In the middle of the song, the n-word is used 5 times (one fifth as frequently as b–) by a rapper who’s name also contains the n-word. All of those words are offensive (hence the fact that they won’t be published in full on this site, said on the radio or tv etc.), singling out one of them is taking things out of context. Do I think that what happened was stupid, ignorant, and hurtful, yes. I’m truly sorry it ever happened. But I think we need to look at the whole picture before continuing this medieval witch hunt. Put the pitchforks down for a second, and breathe.

    • concerned wash u student

      I would be interested to know what you consider the whole picture to be, as well as how the statistical frequency of profane vs. derogatory terms has any bearing whatsoever in this matter or does the inverse proportionality of the ratio hold some significance? If ethnic/gendered/transgender/LGBT/(any that apply) students cannot get upset, enraged, and disturbed by other students entering their presence and screaming (lets not argue about the decibel count please) derogatory terms that have been used against them for centuries/decades/years, what should they get upset about?

      Or should we all just accept rude, ignorant, targeted behavior by our classmates because some people find that language cool/popular/ok? If I remember correctly, oppression all across the planet has had popular support as tyrants don’t do it all by themselves. Maybe we should all calm down when it comes to matters of social justice and only get mad, angry, upset, and enraged by who wins dancing with the stars and american idol.

      • Calm Down Please

        I don’t know what the whole picture is. That’s the point. We as students, while entitled to every emotion brought on by this event, are not 100% clear about what actually happened. I was using the example of the frequency of this word in the song lyrics to simply show that we have focused in on one, relatively small (although, yes, very offensive) part of this story. We owe it to this community, to the victims of the event, and to the pledges, who are currently under investigation, to take a step back for a second and admit that the behavior being illustrated on this forum may not be constructive simply because we are not privy to the whole story.

        • concerned wash u student

          I understand where you a coming from, truly I do. I also noticed that you indicated that we should stop isolating the n-word from the rest of the disturbing terms. However, out of the counts that you gave in your comment, only the n-word has a ratio and the n-word is the only one that you directly associated with the performer so in that sense you are singling out the n-word as your proposed for us not to do. I would agree that all the terms are egregiousness but my point is that a plethra of rude terms and the ignorant people who chose to use them does not justify the racially disrespectful attitude. It is my hope that we do not sweep our classmate under the rug and say hey your are ABC and an ABC person uses a derogatory term (or terms) and is popular, so do not feel pain, scorn, or contempt because the popularity of ABC made this term socially acceptable. But yes you are right, we should look at the bigger picture which I noticed does not take into account the feelings of the students nor their impression of the event which I think would be helpful in this matter. I hope that our contemporaries will develop your open-mindedness to see the full topology of this event. I think you make an interesting point.

  • concerned wash u student

    Instead of intellectually lobotomizing ourselves let’s take a step back. Does the usage of a term in a song justify its usage? No. If a derogatory term is used by a group as a salutation is it any less derogatory? If I found a blatantly antisemitic song and recited it in front of a Semitic group is the act justified since it is used in a song? Its wrong on so many levels so let’s stop justifying the act because of poor behavior of others in the media or community.

    • Hithere

      Your example is not analogous. This song was not made by some hate group. It was made made a black rapper. It was also extremely popular. I know of no popular songs that contain the k-word nor are anti-semetic.

      Please try again.

      • concerned wash u student

        For the sake of argument, I will try again to clear up your confusion.
        The terms used in the lyrics of the song recited by my fellow student are derogatory against many groups.

        No where in the definition of Derogatory do we find clauses which change the interpretation based on intent, popularity, nor ethnicity of the elocutionist.

        I have included the definition of Derogatory below along with the synonyms.
        To change the interpretation based on popularity would also change the synonyms, that notion is highly illogical.

        It is my sincerest hope that the definition will assist you in interpreting my statements, and the derogatory nature of my fellow students word usage.

        -concerned wash u student

        ——————————–
        Derogatory

        Adjective
        Showing a critical or disrespectful attitude.

        Synonyms
        abasing, abusive, back-biting, belittling, calumniatory,
        calumnious, catty, censorious, contemptuous, contumelious,
        debasing, defamatory, deflating, degrading, demeaning, deprecatory,
        depreciating, depreciative, depreciatory, derisive, derisory,
        derogative, despiteful, detracting, detractory, diminishing,
        disadvantageous, discreditable, disdainful, dishonorable,
        disparaging, disreputable, humiliating, ignoble, ignominious,
        infamous, inglorious, insulting, libelous, lowering, malevolent,
        malicious, maligning, minimizing, mitigating, notorious, offensive, pejorative, ridiculing, scandalous, scurrile, scurrilous, seamy, shady, slanderous, slighting, sordid, spiteful, uncomplimentary, unpraiseworthy, unrespectable, unsavory, vilifying.

        • Hithere

          If you don’t see the discordance between your example and the Dr. Dre song even after i made it blatently clear I can’t help you. You’ll just have to live with your ignorance.

          • concerned wash u student

            Thank you very much for your observation. I would encourage you to refrain from Ad hominem and Ad populum which you employ in your argument as it only concedes my point and erodes your own. Besides, fine students of Washington University should not have to resort to such trivial tactics. You mentioned discordance, which mean inconsistency. If I say that the lyrics of the song are derogatory, how is that inconsistent with my conclusion that the recitation of said lyrics are as well? Simply relegating me to my own ignorance does not shed light on your argument. In case you have missed my point, calling someone dumb, does not disprove my rather poignant argument on the derogatory nature of the event.

            Please try again.

            -concerned wash u student

          • hithere

            Okay I’ll try to break it down for you one more time. I’ll focus on two quotes in particular:

            1) “Does the usage of a term in a song justify its usage? No”
            2) “If I found a blatantly antisemitic song and recited it in front of a Semitic group is the act justified since it is used in a song?

            Your argument was 1. Your proof (in the form of an analogy) was 2. You purposely chose an extreme, egregious example for 2 to get your readers to accept 1 as fact. Your overall goal was to undermine the arguments of the defense (that this was an artistic performance and therefore the act wasn’t inherently racist). You want to see this student/fraternity punished.

            My response to your comments involved showing you that 2 should not be related to the events that happened in the case. Essentially, I said a song whose lyrics specifically attacked Jewish people was clearly not the same as the rap song of Dr. Dre. Since I invalidated 2 I invalidated your entire argument.

        • Disgusted

          Agreed that the word “derogatory,” and the synonyms you quote above, specifically “libelous,” “humiliating,” “malicious,” “pejorative,” scurrilous,” and “slanderous” are all applicable to this incident. Except, it is the other way around: it was the pledges who were unfairly maligned here.
          Libel and slander are actionable in court. The administration’s premature email and subsequent failure to repudiate it, and Stud Life’s reckless and incomplete “reporting,” and their inflammatory cropping of the photo were wholly inappropriate and responsible for this s—show. Let the lawsuits begin….

          • Not True

            They don’t have a case for libel or slander. For libel and slander you need to show that the institution knowingly provided false information. They were going off the best available information they had at the time.

            Also, the articles have not mentioned any particular names so any damaged parties do not have any standing. The national organization of SAE perhaps could, but they won’t.

          • hithere

            You could subpoena the school for the names of the accusers.

            For libel, I would say crop-job for the picture on the front page would be a good piece of evidence that the paper knowingly misrepresented the facts. If nothing else the editor and his staff need to be removed from this paper.

        • jjlee

          pe·dan·tic (p-dntk) adj.
          Characterized by a narrow, often ostentatious concern for book learning and formal rules: a pedantic attention to details.

          • Attorney

            To Not True
            There absolutely are grounds for a lawsuit here. Both StudLife and the U exhibited a “reckless disregard for the (whole) truth” and defamed individuals unfairly.

  • wryss

    These comments have been infiltrated by what I like to call “subject changers.” These are people who attempt to minimize the situation at hand by saying things like “the real issue at hand is not whether this guy acted in an offensive and derogatory manner, but whether or not black fraternities should be punished for hazing!” Obviously, these comments may bring up important issues, but issues that are wholly irrelevant to this story.

    The judgment on this case will be aimed to help foster an environment where all students can feel comfortable, welcome, and safe. Thus, the issue currently at hand is not about the ownership or lack of ownership of the n-word. The issue is whether an intelligent, educated member of the Wash U community (as I believe we all are since we were accepted to this highly selective university and have not failed out) could reasonably anticipate that his actions of standing next to a group of black students and using a knowingly controversial, racially-charged, and historically derogatory word would bring offense. Arguing that he did not know that blacks may be offended by his use of the n-word, or that he could not see them getting upset, is to essentially suggest that he is ignorant as this has been a source of popular debate for decades. If he was aware of the fact that what he was doing was racially offensive, does that necessarily make him a racist? Of course not.

    Whether or not he should be punished for his actions is up to the university. The event has, however, illuminated a very “us vs. them” dynamic within the Wash U community that I had been blissfully unaware of until now. I can only wonder what steps the university will take to mend this image.

    • Hithere

      Being in the same public space does not equal “standing next to.” When you misrepresent the facts ot undermines your argument.

      • wryss

        How can you confirm or deny that I am misrepresenting the facts? How close does one need to be to be standing next to someone? Would it have been better if I said standing near? Standing near would imply that the students were close enough that everything said by each party could be heard by the other, which from the story that has been presented, is the case. The black students clearly heard what the SAE student was saying and he was either able to hear or see their reactions, which drove him to later apologize. I am basing my argument off the facts I have, which is the only way to make a logical argument. It is illogical to say, actually, he was in a different part of BD, but since everyone involved has bionic hearing, they could easily hear each other over the noise of BD.

        If he had been standing in the exact same place and did something more blatantly racially offensive, such as say “those n—— over there……”, would you then make the argument that he was only in the same public space, he was not near or next to them, he was not speaking directly to them, so it is not offensive? I sincerely hope not. If you wouldn’t my argument is not undermined. It is just you trying to ignore any valid points I made on the basis of one small point of relativity.

        The point is not how near or far he was. The point is that he could be heard by people he could have reasonably anticipated would be offended by his actions, he was close enough to at some point realize that they had, indeed, been offended. I even said that I do not think this makes him racist, but I do think his actions made the group of students reasonably FEEL targeted, uncomfortable, and unwelcome. I did not say if he should be punished or what the punishment should be. I was just trying to illuminate the real main issue here since it is being lost on many people. As I said in my first post, the university seeks to make all students feel comfortable, welcome, and safe and if someone is taking this away from other students, whether intentionally or unintentionally, it is something that needs to be addressed. Before you or someone else begins talking about the ways this incident could be making SAE students feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe, just remember that is a DIFFERENT issue, even if it is valid and deserves being addressed in a different forum on THAT topic. Please don’t change the subject.

        • concerned wash u student

          I am with you. Way to bring it back to the topic at hand. It baffles me that when persons feel wronged due to racial slur that the masses are quick to disregard their feelings and point fingers at everything but the elephant in the room i.e. racially disrespectful attitudes and actions. You can see it in the thumbs votes. Denounce the act as ignorant and derogatory and your thumbs down will light up like a casino jackpot. You will also have at least one comment about it wasn’t intended to be malicious even though malicious is a synonym of derogatory. Is this the attitude we should have in our free thinking academic society? This is the final conclusion of Wash U’s greatest minds? Sit down, Shut up, and don’t feel upset because we have decided that a popular ignorant member of your race decides what is socially acceptable to say to you, period. We are going to take this perspective to the world as we become leaders of tomorrow and wonder why this polarization still exist? I am in the twilight zone or something.

          • Jordan

            I think most of the commentators on here (~95%) are advancing another view of the situation. I don’t think that indicates people are in favor of disregarding the feeling of those who felt wronged or hurt by the words of this student. Rather they don’t want to see punishment exceed the crime.

            If commentators are getting downvoted for calling this act clear racism and demanding suspension/expulsion then maybe that trend should indicate that you should question the validity of your judgements. Now maybe some people people are downvoting because they actually hold prejudices but the probability is low that everyone falls in that category.

        • hithere

          I directly quoted you. When a reader reads that statement they naturally assume that this pledge was <5 ft from this group of black people. The image you created was extremely damning to the pledge and fraternity.

          I forced you to make a much better argument and I think a lot of your points are legitimate and worthy of consideration. Just please be fair in the future. I think that's a reasonable request.

          • concerned wash u student

            Could you site your measurement tool used to gauge distance and your interviews with the people to know what they assumed? Scratch that. Why does it matter if he was 4.8ft from them or 7.25ft? Did you read my earlier comment? Why split hairs over everything else but the issue? Which from the perspective of the students minding there business is invasion of privacy (which is why they confronted them) and using racially insensitive and damaging slurs in their presence. Regardless of his distance, they heard it and didn’t like it. Would it kill you to say hey, what they did was wrong? I use examples to emphasize a point not to force my opinion. When its blacks, we split hairs, when its disgruntled refugees in america we say leave the country, when it is group A, we hear excuse B with rationale C. Why can’t we just say what they did is wrong? Would we have these debates if we came to a common ground? My point is that the fraternity’s actions were wrong, whether it was the students or the organization is up to the school to decide. I am interested in your point which is why I am replying to your remarks but if you could condense it for me that would be helpful. Are you outraged at the school, or maybe you feel that the frat is the victim here, or have another view that does not involve our past discussions. I am interested in your view as well as any of my classmates, help me to understand what your point of contention is with this issue so that I can see things from your perspective to benefit from your insight.

          • hithere

            I was clarifying your comment because a misrepresentation of the facts has been a trend throughout this case. Why not just describe it accurately? The students were spread over a public area but close enough that the performance could be heard.

            With regard to your invasion of privacy comment, according to the law (which is a good metric to judge things on) you have no expectation of privacy when you’re in a public place. I could go out and film/photograph people all day and there is absolutely no legal recourse for the individuals being recorded.

            Saying this was wrong comes down to perspective. The students who were hurt obviously thought it was wrong. The fraternity members did not think it was wrong beforehand but obviously realized it was after everything happened (hence the apology).

            Yeah a conversation needs to happen. That’s how you make progress. When you punish people are satisfied with the result and the conversation never happens…

    • Disgusted

      If anything, the “us vs. them” mentality was reinforced and amplified by the vindictive suggestions contained in the ABS statement. Its presumptuous and cavalier demand that these students be suspended–AFTER IT WAS CLEAR FROM THE EVIDENCE THAT THERE WAS NO RACIAL INTENT HERE WHATSOEVER–demonstrates that there is indeed a witch hunt going on here. I, for one, have always welcomed and valued diversity on this campus, and never felt like it was “us vs. them,” but after reading that statement I realize, sadly, that it is in fact “them vs. us.”

      • wryss

        I personally do not agree with ABS’s demand for the suspension of these students. However, I do not feel that this shows an “us” vs. “them” mentality. I think I’d expect such a request from an organization that represents the wronged parties. The students feel less a part of the community as a result of the incident and the ensuing comments on forums such as this, the Wunderground article, and other online outlets, particularly those that allow commentators to be anonymous only furthered such sentiments. These comments are filled with people delegitimizing the feelings of the students who reasonably felt targeted, even if it was not the SAE student’s intent. It makes them feel isolated to be members of a community that is telling them they are overreacting and that their feelings do not really matter because they were delusional in some way. I know someone will probably attack this example, but are you at all surprised when the family of a murder victim gets on stand and demands life in prison for someone accused of murdering their loved one, despite very limited and unclear evidence that the person is guilty? I am not because it is a very (of course far more than this situation) emotionally charged situation and the family just wants someone to pay for what happened as a means of healing. So no, I expect the organization to stand by the affected parties and act out of emotion, especially since online comments have greatly extended the hurt that members of ABS feel (including those who weren’t originally involved), because they are only HUMAN. I can not take the ABS letter out of my statement when I said that this “event has, however, illuminated a very “us vs. them” dynamic within the Wash U community,” because the statement is now public knowledge and influences how other people comment. Thus, I am not isolating any one particular part of this, but saying that in its entirety, it has given me the impression that the us vs. them dynamic exists when I had not seen this previously.

        • hithere

          One race banded together to accuse members of another race of some egregious “crime”. That “crime” turned out to be far milder than what was claimed. In fact most people have called it, at worst, bad timing and an error in judgement. They accept that individuals experienced negative feelings and emotions. They do not accept the claim that it was a direct act of racism.

          In light of these facts, people have banded together to challenge the allegations and demands for punishment. The two parties have conflicting views which is why you see an “us vs them” mentality. This division did not exist before these events unfolded. Rather it was artificially created.

          To solve this people representing these two separate views need sit down and talk to each other in a kind, respectful manner. The hateful nature of individuals needs to be dropped.

  • a current junior

    In light of recent events, here are some things that I’ve been thinking about lately:

    Things I’ve noticed:
    The world can still be a hurtful place. No matter how respectable of a community we appear, it can still (and does) occur at a place like WashU.
    The amount of passion that people have on this issue is incredible to observe.
    The truth becomes harder and harder to know.

    Things I’ve been reminded of:
    I still love WashU

  • Anonymous

    I am doing my best to reserve judgment until more information is available. Given the limited details, conflicting reports, and my distance from the situation, I think it would be irresponsible for me to form an opinion at this time. The only thing I can say with absolute certainty is that both the incident and the way it has been handled highlight how important it is to think before you speak. Words can be very powerful, and I suspect that many people involved now wish they could take back some of the things they have said. It has never been easier for our words to reach a mass audience, making it all the more important for us to choose them carefully and consider how they impact others.

  • Matt Elitt

    I read through all these comments. It seems like there is a decent amount of separation between those for and those against this student and fraternity. What this means to me is that these issues are complex and the distinctions are not clear.

    I think punishing this student or fraternity is counterproductive and negates opportunity the WashU community has before it. It will only anger those for the student and fraternity and create even more separation between the races.

    If we recall the ideas of Martin Luther King Jr., he advanced ideas like thoughtful discussion and loving your neighbor. He would have wanted to sit down with this student and fraternity and talk to them. He would have wanted to influence their hearts and minds, ultimately leaving the world in a better place. He may have been angry about the events but he certainly would not have demanded punishment/expulsion for his idea of justice.

    Why not lead by his example and organize discussions involving the entire student body (this pledge and fraternity included). Perhaps these fraternity members could be trained and serve as the facilitators/leaders of these discussions. Lets turn something negative into something positive. Lets abandon feeling of hate and replace them with love for another human being.

    • Hithere

      I dont see this happening. People want this kid expelled and his life ruined because they want to use him to advance their message. Its ironic because this kid was on a slam poetry team with a lot of black people and im sure he would have faught for them during his life. Now I would imagine he’ll actually hate these indivduals.

      Also I guess the people that are downvoting you actually don’t want to ‘love other human beings.’ They seem like they want to just sit at their table angry at the world…

      • wryss

        Are you saying he is going to hate all black people as a result of this, or specifically his old comrades from his slam poetry team? I’d hope that one incident in which he offended people and received an extremely harsh punishment, not from the black students, but from the university, would not make him hate blacks or his former friends. Instead, hopefully this will make him a better, stronger, and more socially conscious individual.

        • hithere

          The accusations/evidence is from a group of black individuals. If this individual was not trying to make them feel targeted/threatened/etc imagine how he views the situation. No innocent person feels good about being prosecuted.

          “Hopefully this will make him a better, stronger, and more socially conscious individual.”

          Suspending and expelling him will accomplish those things? He probably wouldn’t ever be able to get a decent job much less do anything meaningful in his life. He’ll never have any power to make any social changes.

          • wryss

            Of course I would not hope that something like this will break him. You have been focusing so much on the facts, but you are speculating here. I was just expressing a desire that his life will be made better in some way out of this (call me an optimist), but you are speculating that one event with a few blacks will make him hate an entire race (at least that is how I took it since you did not clarify) and that if he is suspended or expelled from university he can’t make SOCIAL changes. People do not necessarily need to have degrees to become social activists. Also, if he is only suspended that means he can return and complete his degree. MAYBE this would give him a “black eye” if he wants to be a doctor or something else, but it COULD just give him a stronger personal statement for jobs in social activism since he now knows the power of language and perception. Neither of us (or at least I don’t think so–look at me assuming again) know what will happen in the future. Note: I know you said probably in your first statement, but your second was “he’ll NEVER have any power…” [emphasis added].

            Also, IF what you call the “accusations/evidence” turn out to indeed be statements of what really happened (i.e. that he really did recite a poem that offended them), they are not at fault for telling the truth and telling someone how they felt. It would not even be their fault if they specifically asked for the students to be suspended. It is entirely up to the university to decide how they will handle the situation. IF they made the whole thing up (i.e. he did not recite a poem that offended them) then the black students themselves would be at fault for his punishment because they misled the university. I have not heard that the SAE student is blatantly denying that he recited the rap or that it offended the students. It seems that the debate is over whether he had malicious intent and whether he deserves to be punished–thus I say that the punishment is coming from the university and not the students.

          • what a joke

            You must not get out much. No wash u degree means no decent job? You need counseling, have you looked at any successfully employed people that aren’t wash u grads? Sit down.

          • hithere

            Usually I don’t stand when I write on my laptop but thanks for the advice anyways.

            So your argument is that this student, with a suspension/expulsion tied to his record, would have no difficulty applying for jobs/professional or grad schools? Interviewers would read that WashU took severe disciplinary action and just go, “Oh, that’s interesting…he’s still a great candidate though.” You’re living in a fantasy world.

  • hithere

    I for one am amazed no major news organizations have published this story. I mean with the CLEAR RACISM that went on here I would think they would be all over this…

    Maybe they realized any reader would look at this and say “Wow this is load of BS” and decided it wasn’t newsworthy as a consequence.

  • anonymouse

    It’s funny that everyone has focused on the motivation of this event and not the reality of the event at all. SAE is guilty of hazing its members. Plain and simple. Read the “Fraternity Laws” of SAE and it spells it out, this scavenger hunt was prohibited by their national organization.

    • hithere

      No where does it say scavenger hunter are prohibited. Scavenger hunts are actually specifically recommended by WashU’s greek life.

      You know what is hazing? Branding your black fraternity brothers.

      • Ashley Fox

        hithere — I’m genuinely interested to hear your perspective in detail and have a real conversation with you. Or even just listen and not speak. While I don’t think you’re actually brave enough to claim your comments, feel free to email me at [email protected] if you do at some point choose to stop hiding. Take care, Ashley.

        • Hithere

          Ashley you’re calling for the suspension of students who absolutely do not deserve that treatment. Of course I wouldn’t reveal my identity! I can only imagine what you would try to do to me! Does that make sense? Do you not think that’s reasonable?

          That all being said some of my comments certaimly have crossed the line but it was for the purpose of highlighting the unfairness of accusations. I’m sure branding is a very emotional experience that is savored by the individuals that go through it but I can just as easily contrue it in a troubling light.

          • Anonymous

            I can understand not wanting to talk directly with an executive member of ABS, but please talk with someone of the black community with an opposing viewpoint on the issue. You have stated before that you agree that the only way to move forward is to promote productive conversation, yet you have continually rejected the opportunity to do so. I honestly would love to talk with you because I want to talk with the most opinionated voices regarding the issue, but your consistent anonymity has prevented that in person dialogue from happening. It will be extremely frustrating for me to pursue any type of productive programming on campus knowing that many of the anonymous voices on here aren’t likely to participate in such in person discussions (though that frustration won’t stop me from doing so.) If you are interested please let me know, and I will figure out a way for you to participate in the dialogue in person (without revealing your “hithere” status).

      • Anon

        Out of curiosity, what do you know about black fraternities, if anything at all? Brands, similar to tattoos, are the CHOICE the the individual once they are fully initiated into the fraternity. No one is pinned down and forced to be branded. In the off chance that that ever happened, whether in a majority black or majority white organization, that WOULD be hazing and the chapter should be dissolved. Making these unfounded and baseless generalized claims about historically black fraternities just exposes your utter ignorance.

        Also, there are no black fraternities on WashU’s campus making your point utterly useless…

        • hithere

          From WashU’s website: “Washington University recognizes 12 national fraternities and 7 sororities chartered on our campus, as well as supports 9 St. Louis “citywide” Black Greek organizations.” WashU has involvement whether you want to accept it or not.

          If you would like to contend that branding is not hazing then why not be more public about it? If these brands are something meaningful then why not be proud of them? Maybe you can write an article about the practice and submit it to studlife for everyone to view.

          • Anon

            Since when does something being secret equate to hazing? Now I understand your confusion and lack of knowledge on the subject because, like many other aspects of fraternities of any racial majority, the process is not fully disclosed to non-members. Yet, before you speak of “the barbaric branding practice happening in black fraternities” know what it is that you’re talking about. There are black fraternity and sorority members on this campus. If you are confused, I’m sure they would be happy to tell you as much as they can.

          • hithere

            I believe you when you say that its not hazing. However I would say this traditionally over zealous school administration wouldn’t agree. I’m sure that plays into the secretive nature of the practice (about the fact that the individual had been branded, not the meaning behind it).

    • X Marks the Spot

      So many groups, teams, and Greek organizations have scavenger hunts of some kind at WashU. Regardless of whether or not it’s allowed, it happens and it’s usually 100% harmless. I’ve seen more offensive acts on stage at LNYF, Diwali, Mr. Wash. U., Black Anthology, and Carnaval. I’ve participated in four scavenger hunts and thoroughly enjoyed them.

  • hithere

    Is studlife going to leave the cropped photo on the front page that makes it seem like the black students were the central part of the photo or are they going to actually report the news in an unbiased manner?

  • anonymous

    Tamara King needs to get involved here and sort out what really happened. There should be a fair and open hearing
    with the Fraternity President who ordered these activities and the parties who believe they were wronged. It appears from the photo published that the focus was clearly the boy standing in the corner being made to feel like a fool. It appears that the fraternity, by asking the other boy to sing a poorly chosen but popular tune, put him in harms way. The list indicates a number of embarrassing chores but freshman who pledge accept this as part of the drill if they want to pledge. Greek Life can’t abdicate their responsibility here – they need to step up and clarify before pointing fingers. The University needs to represent the rights of all of the students involved here before assuming guilt or innocence of any of them. This incident must be dealt with fairly before it gets any further out of hand.

    • hithere

      Sure and she also should take a look at the barbaric branding practice happening in black fraternities.

    • hithere

      But she won’t and neither will Stud Life because the black community will immediately advance accusations of racism.

      • wryss

        1. Tamera King IS black. Not that black people can’t be racist against other blacks, but I’d highly doubt the black community would make such claims against her.

        2. Wash U greek life is not affiliated with any black fraternities and the only such fraternities are city-wide. Thus, Tamera King has no jurisdiction over them, not to mention that not all black fraternities participate in such activities.

        • Hithere

          You can go after indiviuals, not just the organization.

          • wryss

            1. Relevance????
            2. Unless they are the leaders of national headquarters, do you honestly believe it will help stop the practice (which I assume is your goal since you seem to feel so strongly about this issue) to punish students making up only a small segment of one chapter? I don’t think this is an issue for Tamera King at Wash U, but for someone (hey, maybe you??) who wants to take this up on a national level.

  • Anonymous

    Huge props to Reuben Riggs for pointing out that this is a broader problem than first noted — it may be that only the rap song pledge is explicitly racist (okay also harlem shake, lookin’ at you), but the song choices are also homophobic and three of the tasks have sexist implications. I used to think fratboys at wash u were different (<3 you, beta) but SAE is playing into every stereotype there ever was.

    • Henry Palmer

      Really? The Harlem Shake is racist? I agree with Riggs that this is a broader problem, but trying to hash out the controversy to further villainize the frat is wrong.

      Also, at least some members of Beta have been homophobic and equally as racist, if not more so.

    • hithere

      Then the outrage needs to be directed at the song and those those made it. Hate to break it to you but these students didn’t write it…

    • Common Sense

      I believe most of us here were all singing Get Low at our middle school dances and giggling at the swears as we said them.

  • wayne gretzky

    i think we should suspend any student group that is tangentially involved with any hateful act against anyone. just ignore these coincidences for a minute. how about we suspend every student group involved with gatherings that involve sexual assaults and rapes? would we even have any student groups anymore? i guess the relative frequency of things like that force them to be brushed under the massive rug of reputation and prestige.

    • David

      I would like a clarification on your comment, to see if I am understanding it correctly. Are you suggesting that every student group is involved with gatherings that involve sexual assault and rape?

    • hithere

      Wow talk about stereotyping and generalizing. I thought this type of behavior was a major complaint of minority groups…

  • stunnedalum

    Can anyone please tell what exactly the intention of the pledge’s act was? Or the intention of SAE members in giving him his “assignment?” He was given a choice of two equally offensive songs to recite, and presumably had to do it in a public place. The location was chosen, the song was chosen. My guess is that the students are smart enough to know that someone would be offended and that was part of the “challenge.”

    Just saying that he was given this task b/c he was a former slam poet and the song “just happens” to use certain words is disingenuous to the extreme. He was given a specific rap to recite and chose to do it in a specific place. There was nothing “accidental” about it.

    What in the world was the original point???????

    • hithere

      There are black members in that fraternity. If your contention that the activity itself was inherently racist then you would also have to accept that black members condoned racism against there own race. Doesn’t make a lot of sense does it?

      • stunnedalum

        I made no such contention. I’m asking sincerely what the point was. And still no answer.

        Was it meant to embarrass the pledge? Present some challenge?

        Surely you can concede that the lyrics have the potential to offend any number of people, right?

        • hithere

          I’m not sure the intentions but why do black fraternities brand their members? Is it to present some challenge to their ability to withstand extreme pain?

          Ok here’s your answer: They didn’t chose random, unknown songs. These were popular, mainstream songs that anyone could easily recognize. So you may ask well why not choose a similar song without the n-word or sexist undertones. Two points with that: 1) These songs have a general acceptance in the community so why would these individuals expect that people would have a negative reaction to the lyrics contained within them? 2) They had to choose some sort of mainstream rap/hip hop song to complement the student’s talents in slam poetry. How many MAINSTREAM songs lack the n-word, sexism, racist undertones, etc? None come to my mind…

  • Ben Folds
  • WUSTL 2014

    The people who are at fault here are the ones who put up sensational, accusatory, and untrue facebook statuses attacking SAE before the facts were straightened out. Everyone I know heard about the incident even before the news broke on Student Life, thanks to those who were spreading rumors via social media. I saw statuses blatantly accusing SAE of “racist fun” and taking photos of black students like they were some “anthropological find.” The updated Student Life article now suggests that those accusations are false, but the revelations come too late to save the reputation of SAE and Washington University. African American students here ABSOLUTELY have the right to feel upset by the events that transpired, but blatantly accusing a major student group of intentional racism without solid proof was a mistake.

  • WUAlum83

    As a member of WU ’83, it is disheartening to know that the same type of racist incidents prevail some 30 years later. Make no mistake, this IS about racism, still alive and kicking, and born of ignorance. To simply write it off as poor judgment or thoughtlessness is to minimize the ignorance and actions of the individuals involved…..So then, why the apology? Man up, and deal with the consequences of ignorance, lack of common sense, poor impulse control and foolishness….

    • hithere

      No an apology does not mean that the student knew the act was going to be viewed as racist before he performed it. That’s a ridiculous accusation. Clearly he saw that he upset certain individuals and tried to rectify it.

      This kid really can’t win with people like you though. If he hadn’t apologized you would have said he was racist because he didn’t try to do anything after upsetting people of a certain race.

      • WU’83

        No wrong action, no apology needed. Perhaps the apology was issued b/c the response from offended students alerted the young man that he had better clean up his mess (and fast). Still racist, thoughtless, poor impulse control and foolishness…

        • hithere

          Really? If they student didn’t intend to offend you’re still going to call him a racist?

          I somewhat resent you referring to his apology as “cleaning up his mess (and fast)” as if to say it was not genuine. Did you ever think that this student may have realized he was offending a certain group of people and actually felt bad about the negative emotions he caused? And now he has people like you accusing him of not being sincere. What more do you want? No matter the evidence is seems people like you will not be satisfied until you have his head on a stick.

    • Urkiddingmeright

      You’re doing a disservice to the alums of ’83. There was absolutely no racial intent involved, and an apology is not an admission of guilt. People apology when they see they’ve offended somebody, even if there was no real reason to be offended. But go on and act like you actually know what you’re talking about. It’s funny to see someone so senile at such an early age.

      • jj

        Alum83 and hithere, you are both right. I do not believe the pledge is a racist, but he did act thoughtlessly and foolishly. He was correct to apologize because his actions/words hurt and offended certain individuals. If you hurt someone, even unintentionally, the gentlemanly act is to apologize.

        It’s similar to a scenario where I unintentionally hit another car. The accident doesn’t mean I am bad person, but I should still apologize and take responsibility for my mistake.

  • Typical SAE Brother Trolling The Boards

    Like, c’mon guys, I can think of a million reasons, no matter how tortured or insane or the least bit credulous, why this wasn’t HURTFUL OR RACIALLY CHARGED AT ALL and anyone who was offended is CRAZY or, uh, or, no, you’re the real racists! Chew on that for a minute.

    Now we chill, my negroes? Oh, oh wait, I didn’t mean “my”…oh, that came out all wrong…GOSH DARN STUD LIFE AND THEIR INFLAMMATORY REPORTING!

    • Your Homie

      bro u messed up

  • Curious

    Color me confused and curious.

    So obviously the n-word is highly charged and unacceptable in most circumstances. And I get the black community attempting to reclaim it (or I guess rather, claim it) in an attempt to remove it’s power and transform it into their own benign term, kind of…

    But, when it comes to music, isn’t there something else at work. Maybe white people shouldn’t be singing songs with the n-word, but is there zero responsibility on the artists behalf? It is a well known fact that a majority of hip-hop/rap music is consumed by white people – is there no recognition that in creating music with the intention of profiting financially and including that word when it will be consumed by white people will lead to bad circumstances. Couldn’t much of this be avoided if music (perhaps the only mass public use of the word on a daily basis left) laid it to rest?

    • dr. dre

      There is an issue with Caucasian Americans saying the n-word in the presence of African Americans, which can remind of the horribleness of various forms of oppression (slavery, lynching, etc.) they suffered in America’s history. However, I also believe all Americans have the right to choose their music, so I say let the Caucasian American hip-hop lovers enjoy their music and say “n—-” (not “n—–”) as they sign along, as long as it isn’t blatantly in public or to random African Americans who could be hurt/offended by its usage by a Caucasian American. The key is RESPECT and understanding the responsibility and context of saying the provocative n-word.

  • Concerned Community Member

    I feel that this is all a symptom of a larger problem, as evidenced by the reaction following this event. Namely, the divide in our community, black vs. white, greek vs. nongreek.
    I agree that this problem needs to be addressed, but leave SAE and these boys out of it. Don’t use them as a platform, if anything, just use this incident as a starting point.

    also- studlife and Wash U administration- you gravely mishandled this situation. Studlife- you are responsible for reporting the news. Accurately. Which you did not.
    Administration- you have a responsibility to your students. You failed some of them MISERABLY by throwing them under the bus. It scares me that you were so quick to do that. It is also embarrassing. I hope that you read these comments and think about what you did and how it was WRONG. These boys are owed an apology, because much of our school and people throughout the US now think INCORRECTLY that these boys are evil, thoughtless, racists.

    • hithere

      Its called scapegoating. Its also incredibly ironic.

    • WU’83

      Maybe not evil. Definitely racist and thoughtless.

      • Urkiddingmeright

        No, your posts here are racist and thoughtless. Try again.

    • WU’83

      This student wanted to belong to this fraternity, so much so that, at the risk of offending others, made a choice to engage in unacceptable behavior. His apology was an afterthought. Actions have consequences.

      • hithere

        Yep the plan was to intentionally be racist and then apologize after cause that would make it all better….

        This is how you sound. Maybe you need to open your mind and consider another position other than the one cemented into your brain. Maybe they didn’t teach you have to think in an unbiased manner in the 80′s…

        • WU’83

          Now, as in the 80s, racism is. Don’t look for it, but when it rears its ugly head in actions like these, call it out for what it is…hopeful that the Wash U community can engage in honest, upfront dialogue and sensitivity training. #NextLevelNoMoreExcuses.

          • hithere

            This is not racism. Racism, by definition, is malicious intent. Please consult a dictionary if you’re confused about this.

            Now where people offended? Obviously. Does that need to be discussed? I would say yes. Do people need to be expelled and have their lives ruined forever? Absolutely not. Lets take the higher road and actually use our minds when we think about these situations.

  • I’m Just Saying

    Ummm I was just wondering if anyone’s mind has actually been changed by all these postings, status updates, tweets, and articles? Has anyone been like, you know what, I have been wrong this wholeee time. I honestly don’t think this has happened so I suggest we all keep our unchanging opinions to ourselves, take a breather and remember that our professors aren’t going to give us better grades because our school is going through this so start reforming study groups and let’s all get into medical school. We’ll look back on all of this and…well maybe not laugh but at least we won’t want to kill each other over it.

    That’s all I’m saying.

    • fratfratfrat

      Wow! What a terrible argument.

      • fratfratfrat

        Sorry that was meant for “grad student” not you.

  • grad student

    Racist actions don’t require intent. Implicit bias, anyone? “I didn’t know I was hurting people (even after it was obvious that they were upset by my actions)” isn’t some kind of “Get Out of Racist Jail Free” card. A lot of people here seem mistakenly to believe that there are “racists” and then there are “non-racists,” and that racists are easily detected, perhaps by their KKK hoods. No. People can act in racist ways without ever consciously intending to do so (c.f. the studies showing that people with “black” names on their resumes get far fewer callbacks).

    If you step on someone’s toe by accident, and they let you know, do you go, “I REFUSE TO APOLOGIZE! I DIDN’T INTEND TO DO THAT, SO YOUR PAIN IS IRRELEVANT! YOU’RE THE ONE WHO HURT ME WITH YOUR ACCUSATION THAT I MEANT TO HURT YOU!”?

    • DjangoPlease

      Would the “victims” of this incident be pushing for the suspension of the pledge in question & staining his reputation if that pledge had a different — perhaps black — skin color?

      No, they wouldn’t. And last time I checked, making negative judgements about a person solely based off of the color of their skin — like the pledge in question — falls well within the definition of racism.

      • grad student

        I think my comment was pretty clear about the fact that I was not making any assumptions about the intent of this person, and indeed, that intent is not the magic factor that makes an action racist (or not).

        • hithere

          But intent is incredibly important when deciding punishment (as in this case). Unless you want to hold people accountable for actions out of their conscious control… I don’t think you’ll find much support for that.

          • grad student

            If you have followed the other comments, it’s not just the student’s punishment that’s been in question. People have been claiming that it’s impossible to perform racist behaviors unless one is a racist. The inference seems to be, “X is a good person. Good people aren’t racists. So X isn’t a racist. Only racists perform racist acts. So X cannot have performed a racist act.” My comment is addressed to this reasoning.

          • hithere

            Are you kidding me? You’re saying that we should punish someone for something they didn’t intend to do? Maybe you need read about the purpose of punishment…

          • grad student

            I said nothing about punishment. Punishing one student, or a few, or even a whole fraternity, is probably not going to do much about the problem of racism on campus. We do need sincere discussion. Listening to people of color is a good way to start. This conversation has become completely derailed away from their experiences and I spologize for any part I had to play in that.

          • hithere

            That’s fair. If you think racism is a problem and get a conversation started I would be 100% behind that. But to make an example of this student just because his action happened to be the last in the series of potentially racist cases makes zero sense. It sends the wrong message and erodes the support of the cause.

        • DjangoPlease

          What your comment was clear about is that you believe a persons’s skin color determines what they can and cannot do.

          • grad student

            No. I don’t know how else to explain the fact that black people have been and continue to be subject to racism in a way that a white person’s utterance of a racial slur can be seen as a threat in a way that a black person’s utterance would not.

          • DjangoPlease

            You reply “No,” but then immediately support my argument. This is all about the skin color of the the individual who chose to recite the lyrics of a Dr. Dre song. From your perspective, white people should not be allowed to recite the lyrics to a Dr Dre song, and black people should be.

            If I’m missing something here I’d love to hear it.

          • hithere

            The example must begin with those who are offended. If black people use the n-word loosely then it only serves to belittle the significance of the word. Saying “what up my n-word” shows to observes a general lack of respect to the word. I don’t see Jewish people on campus saying “What up my k-word” to other Jewish students.

            If this word is as powerful as you contend then black people should drop it from their vocabulary.

        • DjangoPlease

          You are proving my point by choosing not to address it.

          The intent of the pledge in question isn’t the problem. It’s the fact that he didn’t have the right skin color.

          • leak

            He does have the right skin color. He’s white, that is about as ‘right’ a skin color you can have.

            You seem to think that you can co-opt the words of Dr. King, that a man shouldn’t be judged by the color of his skin but the contents of his character. But Dr. King’s dream isn’t a reality, and until we can get to a point where it is a reality then we can’t ignore that racism exists and it’s not a matter of seeing color. It’s a matter of acknowledging that certain people are more privileged by virtue of their skin color.

            When white people use the word ‘n—–’ for laughs, it is offensive because it brings up a very real history of that term being used as a way to disparage Black people. Do you understand now why a white person saying n—– is racist and a black person being able to say it when white people shouldn’t isn’t racist?

          • Concerned Student

            He said the “n-word.” Whether it is part of a song, there is a problem with that and you seem to be spinning this around to be an issue of ownership of the word. Yes, he is white and he said the word. Also, yes, if he was black there probably would be no backlash like this. But the fact of the matter is that the word should not be used by ANYONE and because of the way society is he will and must be punished for his actions. There needs to be a precedent set for this kind of action. I feel for him because he made a mistake and I am so saddened that this conflict has gotten this far because I know he had no ill intentions at all. It was simply his ignorance/mistake.

          • hithere

            Leak, this is the same line of argument that has been torn apart below. Please read and provide something new or don’t contribute.

          • hithere

            Concerned student, using your reasoning no white person can say the n-word. Why aren’t you up in arms about Django Unchained? I would contend that you believe it is permissible for a white individual to use the n-word in certain circumstances.

          • WU’83

            @ leak: the content of this student’s character has definitely been called into question.

          • hithere

            @wu’83 Why? Because he sung a mainstream song that has never offended anyone before?

          • WU’83

            @hithere: Not just about the song. Inappropriate, insulting behavior and casting off restraint in the quest for a dubious prize (frat membership). Children learn what they live. I wonder if his parents are outraged by his behavior or defensive as you are….

          • hithere

            @wu’83 Wow you’re really painting this black and white (no pun intended). If I don’t attack this student I’m against black people? How ridiculous! Its people like you that set your race back. I just showed this to my black colleague and he just shook his head at you.

            When you cast the “behavior” in a negative light, what specifically are you referring to? Taking a photo in a public place? If that’s all they had done would you have been upset? And if not then how is that act “racist?”

            When you say things like “a dubious prize” referring to fraternity membership it makes you seem incredibly biased. Isn’t this what you’re trying to fight (generalizations, prejudices, etc)?

          • WU’83

            @hithere: “…people like you that set your race back.”
            I guess this means you assume I’m Black? Guess again (you and your “Black colleague”)…
            Careful, your generalizations, biases, stereotyping and prejudices are showing…

      • j

        this is a really tired argument and here’s why it doesn’t apply here — the word has been retaken by the american black community as a means of expressing solidarity and unity; it has adopted a dual meaning. there is a level of implied distrust of nonblack people who use the word, following the logic that if you are black and using the word, you probably aren’t going to be using it in a hateful, racist way (sadly, internalized racism is sometimes the case, which can be a problem for many racial minority groups). i think that is your fundamental misunderstanding — you equivocate a white person using the word with a black person using the word. the former is immune from the true power of the word, as its derogatory usage in the US has historically been directed at black individuals. sorry if you don’t want to acknowledge it, but american society isn’t colorblind; each and every one of us, to varying degrees, lives life through the lens of a member of his or her own race. unfortunately, as a consequence of our history, white-skinned people are often the recipient of positive preconceptions; conversely, blacks, asians, and latinos are subject to many negative connotations by virtue of skin pigment alone.

        i think your not-so-subtle accusation that, no, it is in fact the black students who are racist, is ignorant to these facts and is offhandedly malicious as a result. this is of course a generous interpretation of your posts — nice username you’ve chosen, by the way, DjangoPlease — but the fact of the matter is that whether you realize it or not, and whether you acknowledge it or not, this is clearly not a fair interpretation of the events that happened on our campus, even the face of what little knowledge we possess regarding what actually transpired.

        -J

        • hithere

          The black community uses the n-word loosely and often as a greeting. For an outsider there appears to be a general lack of respect towards the word and its historical meaning.

          The confusing nature of this word and its usage is the central issue here. Unfortunately there is not a universal rule for who and who can’t use it (as evidenced by anecdotes of posters here, Samuel L Jackson, etc). You may offended if a white person says the N-word in a song but another black person might not (I have friends who could care less if I say it while singing along to a song). If it offends you I think its appropriate to express your opinion and an apology could be warranted. Punishment thought? Expulsion? No.

          No.

          No.

          No.

    • Discourse

      No but if you step on someones toes you reply, “I am sorry if I hurt you.” And according to this article the pledge (most likely still 18 or 19 I will remind you), once realizing he just offended a group of people. Came back and apologized for what he did. Yet still this is not enough? He has to be punished for being a young kid ignorant of these very difficult issues? Why does he need to be slandered and called a racist, compared to the KKK and asked to be punished if he understood what he did was wrong and apologized? Maybe he needs to sit down a little more with those who were hurt and talk and discourse so he can understand the feelings of everyone a little more. If you want to stop the hate you need to stop adding to the bonfire.

      • grad student

        My comment actually mentions why I don’t think it’s helpful to call people “racist” or “non-racist,” so I’m not sure what your point is.

        It’s not my place to determine a punishment for this person, and I would agree that the goal should be reintegration with the community, but in a way that doesn’t diminish the pain that he caused, intentionally or not.

      • just saying

        18/19 is young, but by no means is he a child who doesn’t have the capability of understanding potential implications of the word before saying them. He is likely an intelligent student if he got into WashU, and I would hope to expect better from any of my peers regardless of their year.
        I would be curious to know the way in which he apologized, was it a genuine apology, or was more of a joking sort of apology.
        Regardless, its unfortunate that this guy (and especially the rest of the fraternity for that matter) are now dealing with major complications from what was likely a case of ignorance and poor judgment. I agree, having a sit down and talking it out could be very productive. In fact, I think the whole campus could benefit from a thoughtful discussion. This case has turned more into a ‘don’t villify the SAE pledge/Studlife does bad reporting’ discussion rather than a way for all of us to understand where the offended students are coming from and recognizing that there is a climate of racial uneasiness on campus.

        • hithere

          Excellent comment. I would post this again higher up.

    • hithere

      This isn’t a case of implicit bias. This is a case of a CONSCIOUS decision.

      Also if you were trying to make an analogy you failed to keep the facts straight. The white student said the n-word in a song/he stepped on the toe. The black students threw a bottle and expressed anger/they let him know. The white student apologized/incorrect portion: he refused to apologize.

      • grad student

        The analogy was meant to reflect the attitudes that seem to predominate on this board with respect to what counts as an appropriate response when a white person acts in a racially ignorant manner.

        Implicit biases can affect our conscious decisions. I referred to a study that demonstrates this very phenomenon. My point, which I think should be pretty clear, is that intentional racist behaviors do not exhaust the class of racist behaviors.

        • DjangoPlease

          Thanks for letting us all know that appreciating the artistry of Dr Dre is racist

        • hithere

          Its clear you have no idea what implicit bias means. Implicit bias relates objects/things to certain memories. Where is the implicit bias in this case?

          • grad student

            I don’t know what was going through this kid’s head. That’s the whole point. The implicit bias literature reveals that people can act in racist ways without intending to do so. Maybe someone’s racist behavior is a result of ignorance, not implicit bias. I apologize if I did not do enough to connect the dots.

          • David K

            Just read the comments, man. If you have any understanding of the study of implicit bias, you’ll see it all over the place here. They assume automatically the best of intentions of the white frat members and automatically assume the black students are being oversensitive, and all the commenters who complain are being oversensitive, etc.

            Your own implicit biases are skewing your perception on this. Just like people in the Harvard study, ‘Oh, I’m definitely not racist!’ yet test very consistently subconsciously racist.

          • hithere

            So I correct you and now you’re going to insult my intelligence and call me a kid? I promise I’m older than you and my advance degrees are more impressive than yours.

            I understand how implicit bias works. I just explained it to you but thank you for trying to explain it to me. Your problem is that you’re using the DESCRIPTION of a finding inappropriately. Implicit bias does say that people can engage in racist behavior without intending to do so but under certain, limited conditions. The conditions dictate that an individual must observe something in their environment and subconsciously connect them to certain memories leading to responses contrary to their conscious thought patterns.

          • hithere

            David yes that would be a potential example of implicit bias. Implicit bias was not involved in the student’s decision to use the N word. It CANNOT apply in this case due to the circumstances it requires. The student was not associating something to a memory.

            But going back to your point. Yes I’m sure some people on here have implicit bias. I don’t see how that justifies punishing a student when evidence of explicit intent does not exist. Are we going to prosecute everyone who gets accused of something? Quite the slippery slope…

          • grad student

            Are you even reading my comments? “This kid” clearly refers to the pledge, not you. I’ve addressed the rest of your comment already. Intent is not required for racism. The implicit bias lit is one example of this. It’s not the only one.

  • hithere

    Racism requires conscious, malicious actions against members of another race. Some commentators on here have said that merely saying the N-word constitutes racism. This apparently still holds even if the speaker was ignorant to the racist effect of the word (even when I don’t know, an individual says the N-word as part of a performance of a rap song in a public place). Give me a break.

    • j

      are you actually denying the existence of implicit racism when you say that racism “requires conscious, malicious actions”? racism can manifest itself in all kinds of ways. it doesn’t have to be conscious.

      • Hithere

        If you think this was a case of implicit bias you don’t understand it. Period.

        In this case the racism required conscious decision. Please drop this nonsense about racism being a subcoscious choice in this case. Go take a class and have a prof. explain it to you.

  • wustlphysician

    The real irony here is that a members of a group of people who have historically been attacked and punished without just cause are now doing the same thing to individuals of a different race.

    Students may be suspended or expelled over this situation. Their lives will be forever changed and potentially ruined. Maybe they’ll commit suicide. I don’t know. All I know is that there is nothing that can prove malicious intent. That is what is necessary to justify punishment.

    • Jon Doe

      19 year-old boys are dumb, and they make mistakes. But ABS demanding suspensions, ruining boy’s lives for being oblivious to their surroundings, THAT is racism.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t want to sound skeptical but this list was submitted by an SAE member, one invested in the process. Can we be 100% percent sure it wasn’t altered? And even if it wasn’t and the list is harmless as it looks, don’t you think the administration would have made sure things were incredibly accurate before taking action. I mean they knew about it the night it happened. They had from then until all of the next day to find out. The university announcement didn’t come out until the afternoon. It seems like that would have been more than enough time to hear both sides and make a decision on what to do. I may be naive but it just doesn’t seems off that the university wouldn’t clear everything before making statements to the media and sending a school wide report. People’s parents would have called and they would have had to say why they took the action they did. It doesn’t seem like they would do all this without truly grounded evidence.

    • Disgusted

      Yes, you are very naive. The administration and Stud Life rushed to judgment, with utter disregard for the serious consequences and ramifications of their actions. I am disgusted by this university’s premature, knee jerk reaction. Are they not aware that slander is a crime?

      • Henry Palmer

        The university is not to blame. They were unclear of what was going on and halted SAE operations until an investigation could be made. A larger blame should be placed on Stud Life, who horrendously over-exaggerated the situation to seem heroic. It’s disgusting and I can’t accept it.

        • hithere

          The stud life headline suggested that a racial slur was levied at black individuals. That was based on absolutely zero evidence. That is libel.

          Unfortunately all we have to go on is the evidence we have. It would be irresponsible to invent conspiracy theories just to justify a viewpoint.

          • Anonymous

            It seems like that headline was based on eyewitness testimony from multiple accounts and the only information available at the time. Obviously, the situation could be handled better, but I don’t envy the position StudLife was in yesterday. When you have alumni crying for information and a non-responsive fraternity in question, you go with what you have. And they had multiple sources. Please enlighten the world with what you would have done.

          • hithere

            So if a news organization has people demanding news its okay for it to publish an incorrect story? How ridiculous!

            You act like this was some sort of incredibly difficult decision. Its not. The answer is simple: Get the facts before rushing to publication.

          • Alum

            As an alum, I am very disappointed by StudLife’s behavior. Thanks to their journalistic malpractice they have stained the reputation of WashU on the national level.

        • Disgusted

          I respectfully disagree, Henry. I agree that StudLife was to blame here, but the university is guilty as well. Even you say they were “unclear as to what was going on.” The university did not have all the relevant facts–indeed it had very few–when it sent out an email to the entire community saying that SAE was suspended for racist acts.
          After seeing the photo and the scavenger hunt lists, and, more importantly, speaking to some of the pledges involved, I am convinced that this scavenger hunt was intended solely to embarrass the pledges. Given what I have learned, I think that will be obvious to everyone when the facts come out.
          Sharon Stahl could have notified SAE of its suspension without PUBLICLY accusing an entire fraternity of racism. Her email was premature and reckless.
          It also created a huge firestorm which has damaged race relations on campus–perhaps irreparably–,disparaged and defamed innocent students, damaged our school’s reputation, and will no doubt result in a drop in donations from parents and alumni who are, justifiably, horrified at the way that this was grossly mishandled by both StudLife and the university.

      • Anonymous

        I still just think that it would be much more of public backlash and PR fallout if the university were to later say oh just kidding, this didn’t actually happen. I think the Vice Chancellor of Students would have thought about that and been very sure of what had happened before sending out a university wide announcement condemning the incident, an announcement I’m sure she knew would gain national attention. That being said, I take it back. I’m not naive at all. I think “Disgusted” is failing to realize this university is in many ways a multi million dollar business with many stakeholders and a lot to lose if they got this story wrong. The Vice Chancellor would not base actions on a Studlife Article or just one side. But “Disgusted” I respect your opinion and hope you respect mine.

        • hithere

          This is actually a great point. If the university finds that these students did nothing wrong they’re going to be in a bad situation since they essentially affirmed the accusations.

          “I think the Vice Chancellor of Students would have thought about that and been very sure of what had happened before sending out a university wide announcement condemning the incident” That sounds reasonable but in that same announcement they announced that they were opening an investigation. Usually you don’t have all the facts at the start of your investigation….

          • wash student

            Stud life was just reporting the DEVELOPING STORY. it was breaking news, they categorized it as such. They did what they were supposed to do as journalists. The article title is “SAE activities suspended following racially offensive action involving pledges” all of which is true. Were they’re activities suspended? yes. were racially offensive actions involved? yes and was it with pledges? yes.

          • hithere

            “A group of students involved in the pledge process for SAE fraternity reportedly used inflammatory language toward a group of black students eating dinner in Bear’s Den on Tuesday.” Towards means directed. That’s incredibly specific. Where is there evidence to suggest this? Or are we just basing this off of the opinion of the accusers who believed that this was happening?

    • i_am_purplegirl

      I, too, am wary of the picture and list submitted to StudLife. These pieces do not paint a full picture of the incident. For example, there might be more pictures or additional instructions not typed on the list could have been given and not written down. Thus, I can not blindly accept that this “evidence” proves that the intent of the pledges was to do no harm.

      I urge you and everyone to state your opinions and to share your feelings. This dialogue is important. However, I believe that no one should wrongly vilify anyone or any organization (StudLife, SAE, the pledges, the students involved, the University as a while) before the official investigation is over and report is released.

  • Nothing has changed

    You will never be able to desensitize the unacknowledged crime that was and that is still being committed by the mindsets of people at Washu. It is in the foundation of these comments, the lack of accountability, and the belief that you have to physically harm someone to violate their rights as a human being.

    • wustlphysician

      No we’re protecting the rights of the innocent. Its not fair to accuse someone of something they didn’t do. This community is intelligent and people know right from wrong. This is wrong. Its wrong to have a student expelled for a baseless accusation.

      • WU’83

        The student member of this intelligent community exhibited racist actions, a lack of common sense, poor impulse control and thoughtlessness. Intelligence does not guarantee good character.

        • hithere

          Intelligence also doesn’t guarantee that a person will actually think. Based on the comments here the contention is that if a white person says the N-word, no matter the context, its racist. That’s 100% not true and anyone who things that should be ashamed of themselves.

        • Urkiddingmeright

          No. He did not. No matter how much you repeat this lie, it will not come true. Someone get this liar a hot tub time machine.

  • iampuero

    One of the very first headlines that Stud Life used when people were first trying to find out what happened was: “SAE Pledges direct racial slur at black students.”
    I’m sorry, but what the actual f—. I do not blame everyone for becoming so upset if that were true. But it was not, it is not, and Stud Life has seriously hurt our community and helped stain our university’s image. Furthermore, that headline was followed by multiple rushed and incorrect reports that led to this situation escalating to what it has become. Stud Life’s articles and actions yesterday are a disgrace to journalism.
    I 100% support the beliefs of many of my peers that the writers of Stud Life need to admit they handled this situation terribly. Personally, I (mostly) blame Stud Life’s false and sensational reporting yesterday for how this situation has snowballed, and even become national news. After what has happened, it disgusts me that Stud Life is my university’s newspaper.
    (Please note that this is about Stud Life’s handling of what happened at BD, NOT the situation itself)

    • hithere

      The instructions say to photograph the pledge in a public place. Public = people. To prove that it is public you include people in the photo. Make sense?

  • i_am_purplegirl

    Those pledges CHOSE to include those individuals in the photo (without asking for their permission). Who takes a picture with several tables in between you and your subject unless you (1) considered everything else to be background or (2) that in between space was an important element to the photo?

    I question their motives/intent but also the mindset behind such a choice.

    • Disgusted

      The list said the photo needed to be taken “in a public place,” for God’s sake. Clearly, the photo was meant to be of the pledge. If it was taken any closer, it wouldn’t be obvious that they were in public. This is being blown up to a ridiculous extreme. If anyone was meant to be humiliated, it was the pledge. Enough already!

      • i_am_purplegirl

        In my opinion, situations like this must be looked at with utmost scrutiny and detail. While you may view this as overkill or “a ridiculous extreme,” others may not. It is my hope that the university looks at the entire situation through a variety of perspectives and avoids assumptions and generalizations.

      • hithere

        Its ironic you that you say that assumptions and generalizations should be avoided when that’s exactly what you’ve just done. You’re assuming that these students did something wrong.

        When punishment is involved fact is the only thing that is important. Opinion is absolutely meaningless.

        • i_am_purplegirl

          Yes, I do have personal bias and make assumptions/generalizations which is why I (one person) am not and should not be involved in designating a punishment if necessary. This situation must be analyzed critically by the university delegated parties.

          However,just like you, I can state my viewpoint and provide some guide to my thought process in my comments.

          • hithere

            You said individuals should not make assumptions/generalizations. This was in response to the individual’s comment about how this photograph was consistent with the fraternity’s story (including the list they provided). Given the context your statement implied that this individual’s logic was faulty. I was pointing out the irony of this since you made specific assumptions that were not based on any specific evidence (at least you did not reference any).

            But yes we’re both in agreement that the university should not be biased when making this decision, even if it has become a difficult-to-handle race issue.

          • i_am_purplegirl

            The comment that you are referring to is in regards to the university, meaning the investigative board or panel. I should have been more clear in this statement as you seem to have assumed that by university I mean the individual students, staff members, and faculty.

            My original comment was not in response to a particular person’s comment, but a reflection of my original feeling when reading the article and viewing the picture. This assumption that you make of the context of this comment is not my reality.

            I could go on and about the ironies in my comments, your comments, or others’ comments.

          • hithere

            You directly responded to someone’s comment instead of creating an entirely new comment. Usually when you do that you intend to respond to someone’s comment….

    • hithere

      Public implies that there are people around. If you don’t have people in the photo then how can you tell you’re in public? Would you be offended if this was a group of Jewish students? Why does race make this an issue?

  • just sayin

    If the pledge group had moved tables sheerly because there were black students nearby, that would be treating them differently because of their race. Black students say they don’t want to be treated differently, and yet they expect extra sensitivity? Double standard.

    • wash student

      They were obviously upset and felt targeted, and that’s why they should have gone to a different table.

    • hithere

      Obviously? How was it obvious? It has to be obvious to the students being accused otherwise it doesn’t work. Did these students say they felt this way? The answer is no.

      • wash student

        If you read the previous account it clearly mentions that the students got up and talked to the guy afterwards and asked him what he was taking a picture of. If nothing else look at the guys face in the picture.

        • hithere

          So these students said they were upset and felt targeted? If they didn’t how would these pledges know? Being upset/feeling targeted is just one reaction on a spectrum. These students may have just been interested in what these pledges were doing. The point is the pledges aren’t mind readers and its unreasonable to expect them to be.

          • Anonymous

            They tried to before the song even got to the N-word part. Can you just consider that for a second, please? Voicing feeling uncomfortable, being brushed off and told to “show some respect” in response, and then having them continue and the speaker say the N-word.

          • wash student

            you’re just trying to make excuses for the pledges. Or you don’t know how to interpret social cues.

          • hithere

            “Voicing feeling uncomfortable, being brushed off and told to “show some respect” in response, and then having them continue and the speaker say the N-word.”

            Where is the evidence? No, I’m not going to accept your word as evidence on the matter. The stakes are far too high for these young men.

          • hithere

            I defend individuals who face baseless accusations because I wouldn’t want to be randomly accused of something I didn’t do and be expelled because of it…

          • Anonymous

            I didn’t ask you to accept it. I’m just asking you to consider it. If that were the case, what punishment would you deem justified for the individuals involved?

          • hithere

            Definitely nothing that would go on their records. Sensitivity training could potentially prevent future events like this one so I might recommend that to these students.

          • Anonymous

            Nothing else? I’d add that a formal apology from all the pledges involved would be nice too. Also, the action wasn’t very indicative of true gentlemen, so I don’t think it would be unfair to kick them out of the pledge process. Do you think that’s going too far? But okay, and for the rest of the University that now feels it’s okay to say the N-word in front of black students since it was in a song? What should we do to change the climate there? Because in sensitivity training the students will likely learn that the aforementioned is unacceptable and will never make that foolish mistake again, but how do we get that message across to the entire student body? Especially now that everyone is so up in arms about the issue.

          • hithere

            Formal apology, fine.

            Making a mistake doesn’t make you a bad person so no I would not kick them out.

  • purposelypissingyouoff

    I have a dream that one day I could join a black fraternity and be branded by Al Sharpton. And Al Sharpton was an accountant and he was simultaneously doing my taxes.

  • Confused Family

    My dad got remarried to a black woman whose whole family (her kids, her brothers and sisters, her parents, etc.) believe that the N word (ending in an A; they take offense to -er) needs to be used more colloquially by everyone in order to make it less taboo. (Did anyone see Donald Glover on campus? Similar to like that.) So big family gatherings are interesting, because a large black family tries to get a large white family to become more comfortable using the word. It’s a little awkward, but we try and we laugh and it’s, for the most part, a pretty light-hearted affair. It’s a little weird when those gatherings are over, though, and I come back to WashU. Clearly the black community here has a much different stance on the word, but I couldn’t even use the word here like my stepfamily would want me to because someone can’t even recite the lyrics to a song without being called racist or being accused of trying to incite anger. Not saying anything that was done was right, just thinking out loud and observing.

    • PBI

      What say you, Princeton? How is one to deal in a situation like this? What are we supposed to do if black people themselves are encouraging us to use a word in order to end this sensationalizing?

      • Princeton Hynes

        I would ask you if you would call your best girl friend a c-word just because three or so white women told you it was okay.

        Do you see what I’m saying? Why do some white people want to say the word so badly? Why would they rather listen to a small group saying they should use it RATHER THAN the overwhelming majority saying they shouldn’t? Why can’t you just change your vocabulary? Would it hurt? Why do you need that word so badly?

        Fa_ is being reclaimed by homosexuals but is still seen as a slur outside of that context. Do you want it back? C__t is being reclaimed by women, as is b___h. Do you want it back? Q___r by the purple community. Do you want it back? Whyyyyyyyyyyy oh why do you want to use words that white people have used to denigrate cultures for centuries? Why can’t we have them to ourselves? Why can’t we take them back and use the other thousands of words in the dictionary that was created by biased people?

        Look up articles and books on reappropriation and power dynamics and critical race theory. You asked me? Don’t ask me! Educate yourself! I work at Barnes & Noble–do you want to use my discount? I would be happy to go with you! I’d be happy to have this conversation face-to-face ’cause something is being lost in translation! Just don’t say it! Okay? Don’t read it, don’t sing it, don’t let it pass your lips!
        Don’t you hear me, an individual, asking you to do that? Why do my pleadings mean less to you than your own selfish desire to own evvvvvvverything? Go to Olin! There are a ton of great books in there! Articles on the internet. Do something else to educate yourself before you tell me (who has lived this life and read all the things to bolster my lived experience) that you and me saying that word are not two completely different things.

        I’m so disheartened by the comments on these articles. Black frats are cattle and world peace means white people using the n-word. I can’t believe some of y’all sit next to me in class and see me on campus and look me in the eye and feel these things. But don’t respect me or my peers enough to say them without the comfort of anonymity. Wow.

        • Confused Family

          I do not want that word. Did I say that I did? Nope. Do not tell me what I want or claim to need, Princeton.

          Why do people within your own community want to GIVE others that word? The black community at Wash U does not approve, but what about those adults in my step family who may have lived a life that shares some similarities with yours? I assume they are not alone in their beliefs. I’m sure their opinions have evolved over time within the groups they associate with at work, in church, in the schools of their kids, the friends they interact with daily. This does not seem like a desire held by a “small” number of people within your community. It seems more like students at Wash U are not aware of a movement, no matter how small, within their own community that some of us may have been exposed to.

          When my step uncle (I’m going to drop the “step” from this point forward, as I don’t address any family member as “step __”) tells me that using n___a is okay, I get uncomfortable. I understand where he is coming from, but I personally would not use it in this day and age. But if I do avoid using it regularly, am I not doing my family a disservice by standing as an impediment to the progress that they want to see happen?

          As a white person in the middle of two very different stances on this word, I don’t know what to do. Family that I love and trust tell me to use it. Friends and acquaintances who, as of late, seem less amicable and far more malicious by blaming me for actions I didn’t commit or have any control over, rebuke that same thought. One argument is much more compelling than the other given how the situation has been handled on campus this week (by StudLife, by the administration, by the black community). I feel like I don’t have the opportunity to publicly explain where I am coming from or to reach out to others for advice, though, because the fact that I am white and inquiring about this situation would just lead me to be written off as greedy or racist.

        • grad student

          Thank you, Princeton Hynes. The lack of compassion on display here is staggering. I am white, and I can’t begin to understand all the white people here who ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO use racial slurs. Look, white people, no one is telling you it’s ILLEGAL to use a slur; you just don’t get to dictate anyone’s response if you choose to use one, and you should be prepared to hear and sincerely consider why people are upset with you.

          I have to say, I have never once in my life been anywhere near as confused as some of you claim to be. How many times have you heard that this word is a reminder of racism when it comes out of a white person’s mouth? How many times have you heard black people explain, over and over, exactly why that word is hurtful? What more do you need to hear? You’re “confused” because black people are “allowed” to say it and white people aren’t? You are utterly baffled as to why this word is threatening when it comes from a white person, but not from a fellow black person, given the history and current state of racism in this country? Yeah, right.

          • wustlphysician

            Okay lets back up here and get away from certain opinions that people have made. This issue isn’t whether a white person can say the N-word no matter the circumstance. The point of contention is whether a white student is allowed to say the N-word during a recitation of a rap song. If he is then this case has no merit. If he isn’t then he could be be punished. Going further with this latter point, he must realize that he isn’t allowed to say this word otherwise the act isn’t willful and he should not be punished.

            It seems like the societal standard is that artistic, non-malicious performance is protected. This is why you don’t see protests against plays, movies, and books that use the N-word. Bases on the facts in this case it seems this student’s performance is allowable given the artistic nature and lack of malicious intent.

          • grad student

            I await with bated breath the explanation as to why this frat pledge activity was a work of art.

            In any case, the “art defense” is a bad one. Art is frequently slammed for being racist. Artists can have racist intent, or might work racist themes into their work as a result of unconscious bias. “It was art!” isn’t some kind of magical incantation.

            Look, maybe this person didn’t realize that he was acting offensively. Even after the students nearby expressed their frustration. That doesn’t mean that everyone should just forget the incident and the very real pain it caused people in this community, people who are telling us that this is one in a long series of microaggressions.

          • wustlphysician

            The student being proficient in slam poetry would be a pretty good piece of evidence to suggest an artistic nature of the performance.

            Your comment about the art defense being a bad one doesn’t apply to this situation. The primary art is the song. There is no outcry about any racism in it. And if you accept my beginning statement then you must agree the secondary art is not racist as well.

          • grad student

            Its being part of a prescribed pledge activity would be a pretty good piece of evidence indicating that the recitation was not intended to be an artistic event.

            Unless you think that the fact that this student is a slam poet means that every word that comes out of his mouth is part of a work of art.

            My comment absolutely applies in this situation. Even if I concede that the performance was art (which I think is plainly not the case), the context in which it took place is troublesome to say the least. And again, ignorance doesn’t erase anyone’s pain.

          • Anonymous

            The art defense is bad because typically the word use is only widely socially acceptable when the art is intended to be historically accurate (Django, Huck Finn, etc).

          • wustlphysician

            Again, this student did not create the art. The performance of the previously made art was the art (secondary art in this case). Being historically accurate is irrelevant.

            If he is an accomplished slam poet (which appears to be the case) then yes all those words were most certainly art. And given that the fraternity members likely knew these accomplishments, then they were merely instructing him to share his art.

        • World Peace

          Princeton, why do you assume my comment only refered to white people? And why do you assume that I do not respect you enough to say it to your face? What I do disrespect about you are your numerous unbased assumptions you make about other people. Stop distorting my words and attacking my character.

          • Princeton Hynes

            “Attacking your character”???? “Distorting your words”? Who are you, first of all? Since you’re not afraid to lose the moniker. Secondly, I mentioned world peace (your name) once with a quote you said. Whoever you meant in your quote about the n-word being available for everyone–that includes white people. White people using the word is not “world peace.” What don’t you get???

          • hithere

            Why do want to know his name? So you can slander his character just like these accusers did to this fraternity and pledge?

        • Unconfused

          I think the point, Princeton, which I’m sure you’ll ignore, is why should CF listen to you over his family in regards to the usage of the word? What reason does he have to think you’re right just because you say you are over those he has spent more time with and probably discussed the issue in greater depth?

          Further, it seems just flat out ridiculous to tell him to just listen to the majority. Not only is that bad advice in general (don’t look for safety in numbers else you’ll find yourselves with slavery in pre-civil war America, Jim Crow in post, the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, pogroms in Russia, and more), it’s laughable considering the responses you’ve received on these articles. Judging by your up/down=votes, if CF were just to listen to the majority, you’d be in the clear minority.

    • hithere

      Wow wonderful example. I am interested to see how the black commentators respond to this one.

  • World Peace

    I have a dream that one day we can call a person of ANY ethnicity “my n-word”, and it would be understood as term of friendship and brotherhood.

    • uh

      troll?

      • World Peace

        No seriously. In the lyrics of “B—- Ain’t S—”, Daz uses the n-word to refer to Dre, his friend. Then, Snoop Dogg uses the n-word to refer to his homie D.O.C. No where in the song is the n-word used in a racist or negative connotation. It’s used as a term of friendship.

        • Princeton Hynes

          HAHAHAHAHHAAHHAAHHAHAHAHAHA. What don’t y’all get about power dynamics and historical implementations?

          • hithere

            If its soooooo bad then don’t use it! You are the one offended. You must set the example for everyone else!

          • Henry Palmer

            Princeton, I wanted to personally thank you for significantly contributing to the frustration and animosity that should have easily been avoided.

  • hmm

    let’s see if this version gets published on other news outlets like it did yesterday

  • Concerned Alumnus

    People at StudLife need apologize and step down from their positions.

    • Henry Palmer

      Looking at you, Georgie Morvis.

      • Preach It

        Yeah. Definitely the driving force behind the early, poorly-worded reporting. He’s a sensationalist and makes us all look bad.

        • Henry Palmer

          It’s very sad that something that should be reputable can be ruined by just a few opinionated people.

  • fratfratfrat

    Black frats are racist! I want to get branded like cattle and they won’t let me in!!

    • Princeton Hynes

      Here you have it, people. Anonymity strikes again. White people can join black frats, first of all. And how would you feel if someone equated you to an animal for rites you underwent that you believed in?

      • Alum

        Defending the act of physically branding human beings as some kind of respectable “rite” is disgusting.

        I’m sure there are plenty of former frat pledges out there who would say that being compelled to drink to the point of alcohol poisoning was a rite that they believed in, or former sorority pledges who would defend having been forced to stand stand naked and have the fat on their bodies by circled in sharpie (haven’t heard of this happening at WashU but it has happened at other schools), but that doesn’t mean they’re right.

      • fratfratfrat

        Sure they can. How many white people are in the WashU black fraternities? Why don’t black fraternities actively recruit white students to diversify their ranks?

        I never suggested you were an animal so please don’t construe it as such. The PRACTICE is what’s barbaric and animalistic. If you don’t see a problem with being physically maimed then you’re in need of psychiatric medical attention.

        • DjangoPlease

          Diversity and inclusion are of the utmost importance to StudLife, so I must say that I don’t understand why StudLife isn’t super concerned over how the black fraternities aren’t actively trying to recruit pledges from other racial backgrounds.

        • Anonymous

          Because black frats don’t ACTIVELY recruit ANYONE. -_____-

  • Shocked

    Among all of the controversy over the offensive use of the N-word in this incredibly unfortunate and deeply saddening incident I am shocked that NO controversy has been raised over the immediate use of the term “hate crime” to describe the event. A hate crime is defined by the FBI as “a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias” and is an incredibly serious allegation. I am personally as disturbed by the flippant use of this term to define the event as I am disturbed by the involved students’ flippant use of the N-word.

    • chill

      How is using the N-word in an online discussion anything close to murder or arson?

    • Anonymous

      It’s quoting a song, not targeting a specific group of minorities. The group didn’t create the song, nor did Dr. Dre receive discourse when he used it. They were merely asked to recite the song. Though it’s unfortunate that this happened in the way it did, I don’t think that they were personally trying to attack other students.

    • Reader

      @Chill and Anonymous, I’m pretty sure you’re misreading what “Shocked” said. He is concerned that people were using the term “hate crime,” a highly charged legal term, for something that didn’t rise nearly to the level of an actual hate crime, not the opposite (that there wasn’t enough discussion around this being a hate crime).

  • purposelypissingyouoff

    The NAACP is here but where is Al Sharpton? I really need some tax advice!

  • purposelypissingyouoff

    WHERE IS AL SHARPTON? I NEED TAX ADVICE!!

  • wustlphysician

    I think we need to back up and look at this situation more broadly. The accusation is that the pledges/fraternity are racist and engaged in racist behavior. This is a powerful accusation with potentially severe consequences for the accused. From the comments that I’ve read, it appears that some people are essentially equating this to a KKK lynching (individuals have brought up things like slavery, Trevon Martin, etc). Its far from that and to say they are the same shows that you have no concept of strength and severity of the cases.

    AT WORST it was a judgement error, particularly by the young man who said the N-word during a performance. If this didn’t occur this story wouldn’t exist. You wouldn’t see the NAACP wanting people crucified. I honestly believe this pledge isn’t racist. His immediate apologies are a testament to that fact. He didn’t believe his performance was going to offend and upon realizing it had he tried to rectify his apparent wrongs.

    And now this individual may face expulsion and have his life ruined? And for what? To send a message? I find it repulsive and its clear the majority of the people on here agree with my sentiments. The black community’s goals won’t be furthered by punishments against this student or fraternity. Rather it will cause disgust and resentment towards it when people see someone’s life ruined over a judgement error (which again is only a MAYBE or POSSIBLY).

  • Pissed

    Yesterday’s article was rushed, biased, and sensationalist. It blew this issue way out of proportion before any facts were known! These rushed conclusions caused a s—-storm out of very little and now SAE, greek life, an the entire Wash U community is under fire. I saw the President of SAE’s picture on the news yesterday. Tarnishing his name because pledges were reciting rap lyrics is pushing this too far.

    I blame Studlife and its staff. They should be held responsible. Below are portions of two Facebook posts by George Morvis, a StudLife writer. Because yesterday’s article was written by “News Staff” we conviently don’t know who is responsible for it. But based on the posts, he likely contributed his extremely biased opinion.

    FB post from Wednesday Morning:
    This SAE incident that happened last night is disgusting. If anyone has the contact info of someone who was there and had to face this blatant racism, please send it to me. Studlife WILL cover this.

    FB post from Today:
    I don’t care if he wasn’t being malicious or however you want to spin it. YOU SHOULD NEVER USE THAT WORD, EVER. It is not up for debate. I think it’s reasonable to suggest that they deserve punishment for that. On a campus that claims to support diversity and safety, you shouldn’t be allowed to get away with using racial slurs NO MATTER YOUR INTENT. It also features several misogynistic items. That’s pretty gross. Also, scavenger hunts aren’t allowed cause they’re technically hazing.

    • hithere

      KKK – terrible
      Lynching – terrible
      Rodney King – terrible
      Slavery – terrible

      Stupid white kid saying some Jay-z lyrics near a group of black people – definitely not terrible

      Seems pretty simple to me.

    • Henry Palmer

      I have personally heard Georgie Morvis rap a song that uses the n word. DId he say it? Sure did.

      • disgusted

        this Georgie Morvis sounds like a young Perez Hilton

    • pissedaswell

      Well if that’s true then George needs to be sued for libel and slander. Hopefully it will shutdown this garbage, fact-less newspaper forever too.

    • Kayla

      Georgie Morvis is ‘conveniently’ not on the News Staff as is a senior editor for Cadenza, the arts and entertainment section. The bottom line of article clearly states who help gather and report – Georgie is not on that list. Attacking on StudLife writer and using him as a straw man takes away from the real issue at hand.

    • Alum

      StudLife needs to step up, take responsibility for the mess they’ve created, and apologize to the students they accused of racism.

    • Henry Palmer

      Even if Georgie Morvis didn’t do any reporting on this story, his outlandish representation of this story on his personal facebook page, which was both directly and indirectly linked to Student Life, is extremely inappropriate. It is an embarrassment to Student Life, to Washington University, and to all parties involved. I sincerely hope that Michael Tabb and Sahil Patel take note of this disgrace when considering keeping Georgie Morvis anywhere near this paper.

      Assuming, of course, that Stud Life is even allowed to continue publication.

  • darn

    and there i was yesterday thinking I had something to get angry over…

    • student

      Sharon Stahl owes us an apology for wasting our time with the most long-winded email

  • Alumnus09

    I just have one thing to say in regards to how this has been handled by stud life, the administration, and other members of the community, specifically those who were effected by the ignorant use of the derogatory word. To those of you who were offended you have every right to be offended as the word used is incredibly offensive and has a long terrible history behind it. As a Jewish Alumnus I remember many times walking around campus and overhearing people say things like, “stop being a such a jew!” This always annoyed me and gave me this empty feeling at the pit of my stomach. My cultural identity was being used in a derogatory manner and it hurt. However, what I realized, and what I think some of you may have overlooked is that this kid who recited the lyrics of the song most likely did not grow up in a diverse community before coming to Wash U, and this is true of many many students here. If you have never been within a community as diverse as Washington University how can you expect someone to understand the TRUE derogatory nature of a word if you haven’t known someone who has experience the hate that comes with that word, or if you haven’t been a part of the community that discusses those sorts of issues (and many of these issues are often never looked at). This is only augmented by the fact that many forms of media (music, TV, movies) use these various derogatory words without really thinking about it. This in no way excuses his actions, but it is something that should have been considered before those offended went straight to the administration claiming that they were victims of racial abuse by members of a fraternity on campus, rather then trying to sit down with those who read the lyrics and try to have a civil conversation about why the word is so bad. Instead because of the report and shotty journalism at best by student life, the university administration started a firestorm that embarrassed the university nationally. I hope that the administration and stud life learns from this, because their unwillingness to gather and assess the facts of the situation has created two victims on campus. Those that were offended by the reading of a derogatory word from a song lyric and now have to walk around campus with the stigma that they “overreacted” when they had every right to be offended, and those who for a full day and even now with all the information out are being labeled as racists and perpetrators of racial attack on a minority group at Wash U. This could have all been avoided if the administration chose to research before acting. The administration should use this as a teachable moment and perhaps add to their orientation, talks concerning race, prejudice, and living in a diverse community such as Wash U. (they may do this now but when I was a freshman they did not). At the same time any student who ever feels attacked because of what they identify with at any point has every right to speak up and say they feel unsafe; However, if you are one of those students, like I was, instead of immediately thinking of strict action and punishments, perhaps first sit, talk, and discourse. That is the only way we can have a constructive community.

    • Pedant

      Paragraphs

    • Student

      Preach

  • ej

    So a guy publicly sings a song that is, above all else, extremely offensive toward women… and people are getting upset because “the wrong people” sang it in full? If you want to direct your anger at someone, how about Dr. Dre, who both used the n-word AND a heap of derogatory terms about women in a single song. I never really understood the whole n-word thing in the first place – words of hatred have a long history, but I can’t think of a single other instance in which American society has actively allowed a word to retain such power by making it taboo (to only a subset of the population, no less) – but this “scandal” really goes above and beyond in its misplaced outrage.

    • hithere

      Its really ironic isn’t it? Certain individuals like to overlook these obvious facts just like they overlook the hazing/branding conducted by black fraternities.

      • Anonymous

        Do black fraternities live on the wash U campus? No. Do they actively recruit members and conduct business here? No? Do they use university resources? No. Are black fraternities or sororities composed of 25% of the Wash U student body? No? Do they do malicious acts here on Wash U’s property? No. Can they therefore run their organizations how they like without Wash U nor these “certain individuals” that you mention having to closely watch them? Yes. Absolutely. If you’re so concerned with hazing and branding, then take it to St. Louis news. It has nothing to do with the Wash U campus community.

        • hithere

          I don’t understand why you think these organizations have immunity merely because they are off campus. If that was true then ZBT should be completely immune from WashU since they are off campus on non-university property. These organizations recruit WASHU students just like the fraternities on the greek row.

          The non-black fraternities don’t use university resources nor do they conduct malicious acts on campus. Some of them are on university owned property because washu forced them to sell their property decades ago. And no, black fraternities don’t make up 25% of the student body because they only allow black people in their membership. Given the fact that the university’s black population makes up less than 25% of the student body that would make that one pretty difficult to achieve.

          Also certain individuals = the black people/those sympathetic to their cause making ignorant comments on this site.

          • Anonymous

            Not commenting on your statement, just fact checking, Black fraternities and sororities are not just limited to Black people. Anyone can join. It’s much like historically Black colleges. Historically, they were limited to only Black students, but right now anyone can choose to join them. In fact many St. Louis fraternities and sororities have non-Black members. Just so you know.

          • hithere

            Do they have white members?

          • @hithere

            Why, did you want to join?

          • hithere

            Maybe. I don’t know anything about it because they’re so secretive. I guess I took that to mean they didn’t want me in their ranks :(

          • Anonymous

            Nah man, they are pretty much equally secretive to everyone (unless you’re legacy and understand the system). They don’t exclude based on race though. It would be hypocritical considering the whole reason they were founded in the first place was because they were once excluded from greek life. Can we just get off this whole tangent though? Because I honestly don’t see the point in attacking Wash U greek life, let alone attacking black greeks that have NEVER been affiliated with the campus (we’re not even talking once affiliated and then kicked off campus here).

        • fratfratfrat

          Wow that comment was perhaps the stupidest thing I’ve ever read. I, along with everyone else, are now stupider for reading it. Thanks anonymous black person.

          • calling someone “anonymous black person” is more stupid, actually. how do you even know he/she is black? isn’t the point of this discussion to move past these kind of assumptions?

          • hithere

            Wait we can’t make assumptions? I was confused since people were assuming that this fraternity directed these pledges to engage in racist behavior only on weak evidence…

      • OK, let’s not act like black peoples’ actions are being overlooked because of some kind of reverse racism or something. It’s clear that racial profiling in our society still negatively affects the black community and benefits the white majority. Also, why can’t we all just agree that white people shouldn’t say the n word? Seriously, after all the oppression they have gone through that continues today can we just give them that?

        • World Peace

          It’s true the black community experienced horrific oppression in our country’s history. But asking white people not to say the n-word is kind of asking a lot, considering the prolific use of the n-word in music and hip-hop. Musically and culturally, white American youth have long tried to imitate black Americans, from ragtime to swing to jazz to rock n roll. These genres were all pioneered by blacks before the white majority caught on. Hip-hop just happens to be the popular music of today, and offensive language happens to be in a lot of hip-hop songs. If the today’s youth want to sing their rap songs, not being able to say the n-word takes away from artist’s original intent. In the context of hip-hop, I rarely hear the n-word used in a racist manner; it usually refers to generic people or the audience. Through hip-hop, the n-word is losing its racist connotations. And I think that’s a good thing.

    • Dave Wallace

      No blaming Dr. Dre would be too obvious. Plus we can’t expel him!

      • do better

        Hey Dave Wallace, here’s how 85 students feel about you:

        “The only people being racist are the ones who are turning this situation into the wildfire it has become. I’m ashamed by the spineless school administration for throwing SAE under the bus like they have before gathering the facts.”

        I have to concur.

  • Anonymous

    Who said that white people could say the word in a song? I still dont think thats ok.

    • Anonymous

      You’re entirely correct. No outside group has the right or ability to reclaim a disparaging word that does not describe them, under any context. This is true for all intersecting axes of privilege.

      • LeBron

        Have you ever heard of the US Constitution. I’m pretty sure it gives the right to every American to use any word they desire.

        • Anonymous

          And suffer the consequences…

          • hithere

            Threatening someone with physical violence. Seems like an appropriate response.

          • Anonymous

            “Consequences” does not necessarily equal physical violence. I don’t know why that was the assumed to be some sort of threat since that wasn’t even how things played out in this case. The Constitution also gives people the right to be offended and voice their concerns. THOSE are the consequences I was referring to.

    • hithere

      Well that’s your problem. You don’t see the difference between a performance and a directed, derogatory comment. I’m guessing you lost control of your bowels when you watched Django Unchained as well…

      • Anonymous

        Oh rightttt I totally forgot that Django Unchained was set in 2013. They also had KKK members running around on horses in that movie. Someone should stage that here. It’s a performance after all. There is nothing derogatory about that.

        • hithere

          The n-word was used in a performance….just like the case mentioned in the article.

          • Anonymous

            Yes. In a MOVIE performance not on a college campus in the year 2013!! It does not matter that they were PERFORMING a song. It does not matter that they did not originally write the song. They used the n-word right here on campus. Period. Point blank. IT was wrong.

          • hithere

            Are you seriously trying to argue that you can say different things depending on the type of performance? I’m not even sure how to respond to this.

    • Anonymous

      Isn’t this a direct case of discrimination? Why is it ok for ones of their own race to say the term like it’s nothing and then it’s not ok for “white people” to say it?

      • Django!

        Is the black community offended that Leonardo said the n-word as a white plantation owner in Django? If not, what’s the difference?

        • Anonymous

          because he was acting as a character that would have used the n-word historically….? I’m confused as to how someone can’t see the blatant difference between performing a screenplay as a slave owner from centuries ago and performing a slam poem in 2013 in public…no historical accuracy was at stake here. he could have edited it out and it would have been fine. editing out the n-word from slavery, however is lying.

          • hithere

            And the student was doing a historical reenactment of Dr. Dre’s 1992 lyrical performance. Regardless history is not the metric by which we judge if a action is racist or not.

    • Alum

      OK, so your argument (and StudLife’s) is that when it comes to some of the most popular and influential artists of our day, the lyrics of their work may be recited only by individuals of a specific skin color. Individuals who do not possess the correct skin color are not allowed to celebrate the work of these artists through performance, solely because they do not possess the approved skin color.

      Am I missing something? How is that not the most racially divisive stance one could possibly take?

  • Peter Griffin

    They had to eat a dog?! Where’s PETA on this?!

  • Common Sense

    It kinda makes me giggle at how much more quiet this thread is that StudLife’s original article yesterday… The truth comes out and people suddenly less reactionary

  • Anonymous

    Typical behavior from the administration against Greek Organizations…from what I’ve read below it at least seems like people understand how manipulative this University can be.

  • hithere

    Wow that was a phenomenal crop-job on the front page of Studlife. It makes it look like the center of focus was on the black man whereas in the unedited one its clear that the pledge is at the center. Yes, Studlife doesn’t have a slant at all….

  • current student

    TRUE. “The only people being racist are the ones who are turning this situation into the wildfire it has become. I’m ashamed by the spineless school administration for throwing SAE under the bus like they have before gathering the facts.”

  • Jack

    Its sad that brobible’s account of the incident was far more comprehensive than studlife’s last night

  • Conspirator

    Interesting, my comment was deleted by a moderator…

    For merely pointing out a valid point questioning the veracity of the evidence presented (something an intelligent and professional journalist might do).

    Why accept this list as gospel? What would you do if you had a list that proved your guilty? Why I’d think you might be smart enough to print a new list that shows your innocence and publish it. It would take about five seconds to change a few words from something offensive to something benign.

    • Conspirator

      And suddenly, it’s published.

    • hithere

      The accounts of the affected (“witnesses”) can be construed as well. It goes both ways.

      • Conspirator

        Not when the guilty party admits what they did.

      • hithere

        They’re being accused of intentionally directing racial slurs at a group of black students. They absolutely did not admit to that. Are you sure you go to WashU and not Fontbonne?

  • Wash U Alumni 2011

    It seems that StudLife is continuing the anti-Greek assault that was occurring while I was attending Wash U. Every semester I see more and more articles jumping to conclusions about Greek organizations without any due diligence in their investigations. The article posted yesterday should be considered slander. Take a look at how diverse the SAE house on campus is. I’d go as far as saying that the Wash U chapter is the most diverse SAE in the country.

    These types of articles are what is fueling the Greek assault at Wash U. How much longer will the Greek community exist given the administration’s clear hatred of it? Fraternity houses have prime real estate on campus and eliminating them is the easiest way to continue construction on campus.

    • Called Out!

      Thanks for you input, SAE PRESIDENT!

      • AnonStudent

        You clearly do not know Michael Zissman at all. He would never hide behind an alias, nor bash any WashU organization or group. But yeah, real clever guess.

        • Called Out Strikes Again

          Thanks for your input, SAE PRESIDENT’S MOM!

        • hithere

          You tend to insult someone when your argument fails or you have none. Just thought I’d let you know.

    • fedup

      nothing new here…. they need to make room for AC renovations. something has to go, fraternity houses are the easy choice.

  • My Two Cents

    My personal belief is that words have the power to change. That is obviously evident with the evolution of “f-word”; from an innocuous word, to the hate speech it has become today. On the other hand, I believe the “n-word” might be in the process of going in the reverse direction.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dJ6_E-Qbrk

    With regards to people saying that white people never have the right to say the word. If that is honestly how you feel, then it should be a word than no one has the right to say. My friend, who is African-American, (No I am not saying that I am not racist because I have black friends. I am not racist because I believe in treating everyone equally.) once told me the most he was ever offended by the use of the “n-word” was when a fellow African-American said it to him with spite.
    Words have power by the meaning we engender in them. I don’t foresee the “n-word” leaving our vernacular anytime soon. I don’t believe micro-aggressions and prejudice ends by creating differences in two cultures. I don’t see why a white person cannot use the “n-word” with Killer Mike’s meaning.
    Creating walls and making differences between races does not end racism. All it does it make people feel different from those who don’t look like themselves, or come from the same place. Prejudice ends when people feel the same, feel like they are equals.
    I guess what I am trying to say, is that obviously African-Americans have faced great racism and prejudice in American history. But, by making a word a constant monument and reminded of this doesn’t end racism.
    With regards to the SAE situation, obviously it was insensitive and ignorant. It is clear we are not at a place where “my –n-word” is a term of love. However, that doesn’t mean that is not a place we want to reach. That is my two cents, thanks for taking the time to listen.

  • Urkiddingmeright

    Everybody who went on the SAE is racist witchhunt should be ASHAMED of themselves. What a joke…everybody looking for something to be offended about. That’s what’s actually wrong with this a–backwards university.

  • Transferring to SLU!!

    You know what all of the African American comments come off as? They want to see/get a “priveleged” (I say priveleged because apparently every white kid at WashU is just that) white “boy” (yes, this is offensive when a Black person calls a white person boy or honky or cracker)kicked off campus for saying the N-word. Then they can relish in their accomplishment. That’s progress, right? Thumbs up if you agree.

  • hithere

    Maybe this is a good time to investigate black fraternities for hazing. I know a couple guys who have gotten branded as part of their pledgeship. Seems a little more extreme than taking a picture and reciting rap lyrics….

    • Bye

      I’m sorry, perhaps I’m misunderstanding your comment, but what exactly is your purpose? This situation has little to do with the hazing aspect of joining the frat, but rather how it affected students not even involved with the organization. Your comment has little relevance.

      • hithere

        Forcing pledges to do a specific activity constitutes hazing. The idea is that these pledges were forced to engage in racist behavior. This is hazing. Being branded is hazing. Still don’t see the connection or would you not like the conversation to go there because that’s a sensitive issue for you?

        • Hunt

          Members of African American organizations choose to brand. No one is forced to do it. If you knew anything about the African American organizations, you would know that. In addition, branding only involves the participants in that organization.

          • hithere

            And what happens if they choose they don’t want the brand? Are they allowed to be the only one without it?

        • WU’83

          Why happened to choosing right? The student was not “forced” into racist behavior. He made a (very) conscious and foolish decision and acted on it. He chose frat membership over respect for another human being. Period. #Accountability

          • Hithere

            First of all I’m assuming you’re not a teenage girl so quit with the hashtags. You’re not on twitter.

            Second what was the racist behavior? Reciting rap lyrics as part of a performance not directed at anyone? No, sorry, thats not racist.

    • Alum

      Seriously. If any of the other fraternities branded their pledges StudLife & WashU would go after them with all they’ve got. But god forbid anybody say anything negative about the black community, like how the black fraternities brand their pledges like cattle.

  • Conspirator

    Reproducing my comment from the other article, posted before this article came out…

    “Just throwing it out there now…

    If I was SAE and innocent, I’d volunteer the scavenger hunt list (or the relevant part) to be reviewed so that the innocuous fraternal intent would be shown (e.g. the task just said “Do slam poetry of a song in BD”).

    Also, if I was SAE and guilty (e.g. the task said “Do slam poetry of “B—— Aint S—” without skipping any words in front of a table of black students and record it”), I’d volunteer the scavenger hunt list (or the relevant part) to be reviewed so that the innocuous fraternal intent would be shown… after I reprinted a new list that changed the task to something innocent sounding.”

    • Jon Doe

      Oh my god you’re an idiot.

    • hithere

      Yeah and 911 was caused by George Bush. Please take your conspiracy theories and shove them up your a–.

    • Brimstone

      The number of red numbers you have is indicative of how fratty this page is. It’s not like anything you said is wrong.

      • hithere

        Before anyone had evidence everyone said “OMG SAE must be guilty.” Then SAE releases evidence showing that the event did not have racial undertones and you can’t accept it because it doesn’t fit into your idea of the situation. What more would you like? Their black members delivering the organization’s internal emails to you showing no evidence that the event was designed to attack black people?

  • Anonymous

    How did this start such a firestorm? That’s the real question.

    • Washu

      1)Sensationalist and irresponsible journalism from Stud Life (previous article released yesterday).

      2)A neglect of due process and taking proper investigative measure to find out the truth behind what really happened from Dean Stahl and the WashU administration. The “University-Wide” announcement released by her office yesterday was incredibly premature and inappropriate.

      3)An overly sensitive student body who quickly jumps to unsupported conculsions based on stereotypes of fraternities and the type of people who participate in them.

    • hithere

      Black people angry because “white people can’t say the n-word no matter the circumstance”

      • Chelsea Cohen

        Correction: Black people angry because no one listened when they said repeatedly that they felt uncomfortable and disrespected. N-word controversy aside, any human being should be able to speak up about being made to feel uncomfortable and be heard and respected rather than ignored or told to “show some respect.”

        • hithere

          How did they express that in the moment? Was it before or after the bottle was thrown at the SAE pledge?

          They’ve repeatedly said the situation made them uncomfortable AFTER the fact because they want the administration to take action. They said these pledges/fraternity were being racist because its a powerful accusation with powerful consequences. It allows them to get their message out that they’re still repressed at the expense of innocent people. They are potentially ruining the lives of the people they’re accusing….

          • Chelsea Cohen

            Regarding the photo or the song?

            With the photo they said something to the group while they were taking the photo and were ignored. Then when they followed them and asked about it saying they felt uncomfortable, the pledges insisted it was a photo of someone behind them, instead of apologizing and taking the picture elsewhere. (Apologize for what? For taking a photo of people without permission. It’s common courtesy to ask, all race issues aside.)

            Regarding the song: They complained during the performance, were told to show some respect, the N-word was said, and then the bottle was thrown. They were told it was okay because it was part of the song. They responded by saying it was still offensive, and only then did one of the pledges suggest stopping.

          • In response to chelsea

            So Chelsea you are saying that they told them it was still offensive even though it was still in the song then they stopped correct? and according to the article they came back to apologize? to me this seems like a case of young freshman ignorant of the power of that word making a mistake, albeit a very serious one. However, you must understand that by taking this to the administration and following up by calling them and their fraternity racist it created a incredibly volatile situation around the entire campus. Can you honestly say that was the best way to handle it? Wouldn’t of it made more sense to contact the president of the fraternity to relay the incidence, or try to seek out the organization to sit down and discuss all the facts father then flying to social media and stud life creating this intense reaction that could honestly get these young kids expelled for doing something that they were clearly ignorant of? how is going to help them? if you want them to learn and understand why it’s not okay to say these words even if they are in a lyrics this is not the best way to go about it.

          • Chelsea Cohen

            Only one member came back to apologize saying that he understood the significance of the word due to past experiences. The issue is why would one ever consider that acceptable? Especially when admitting to understanding the significance of the word prior to committing the action. The list in no way said the performance had to be in public let alone in front of people who would naturally find it offensive (including women). I’m not going to argue about how things were handled afterwards because that wasn’t what I was responding to in hithere’s original statement (though you should know that those involved were contacted by administration the next morning after reports from bystanders – it was a public performance after all, so they had little say as how to actually go about handling the situation.) The point that I was trying to make is that I’m tired of people reducing the feelings of those involved; they were already reduced enough throughout the whole scenario. It shouldn’t take tossing an empty bottle for someone to finally take you seriously.

            Also, if you all are really serious about sitting down and discussing these issues I invite you to stop using anonymous names and legitimately introduce yourselves. I’d be down to talk in person. Internet debates like this are so unproductive, and there’s really no way to meet a mutual understanding unless you actually try to get to know who you’re talking to. I think we can all agree that there needs to be a positive change made on campus, and rather than wasting time pointing fingers, I’d like those who have been so vocal regarding this incidence to come forward in a collaborative effort to prevent something like this from reoccurring in the future. If you’re not willing to put action behind your words then why bother saying them?

          • hithere

            Ok this is one side of the story but lets go through it:

            Common courtesy. Fine. Required? Absolutely not. These individuals were upset initially that these pledges didn’t get their permission even though its absolutely not required.

            The show some respect comment was probably a little overboard but I could see if these black students were interrupting the performance how they could have been upset about it. Just imagine if a group of white students tried to interrupt a black student who was rapping. And then threw a bottle at him.

          • hithere

            They might have felt that way but that’s irrelevant in terms of the punishment for these students. All that matters is their intentions. If they knowingly intended to harm then they deserve punishment. If not and the act was benign then they don’t (and they certainly don’t deserve to get expelled).

            I think a conversation would be helpful but right now the innocent need to be protected. Afterwards the university community can discuss how we could prevent such misunderstanding moving forward.

    • Jack

      Studlife’s poor portrayal of the incident

      • Getyourfacts

        Studlife was just reporting the news of the suspension.

        • hithere

          No, they said a racial slur was directed at a group of black people. Getyourfacts straight.

    • bullmarket

      1)Sensationalist and irresponsible journalism from Stud Life (referencing the article released yesterday).

      2)A neglect of due process and taking proper investigative measure to find out the truth behind what really happened from Dean Stahl and the WashU administration. The “University-Wide” announcement released by her office yesterday was incredibly premature and inappropriate.

      3)An overly sensitive student body who quickly jumps to unsupported conculsions based on stereotypes of fraternities and the type of people who participate in them.

    • Put it in Context

      Actually, this is absurd. Does no one see the reference to Ben Folds’s acoustic cover of the Dr. Dre’s song? WashU = suburban upper middle class. Ben Folds = satire of suburban society.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-l-c3rTlnE

  • Saumil

    I dont think this anonymous pledge understands the seriousness of the consequences of lack of sensitivity in matters dear to society in general. To call these ‘rumors’ after saying he/she understands how the whole act can be ‘misconstrued’ demonstrates a sort of denial of the social impact of the act. Based on this report, it does appear like the intent of the act was not to hurt anyone, but there is still a failure on the part of the actors to understand the consequences that casual words and actions convey in a social context.

    • iloveulongtime

      You’re angry that the N-word was said as part of a Jay-Z lyric. White people can recite rap songs with the N-word in it if its in a non-inflammatory way (as in this case). Period.

      • anonymous

        Many, many, many, many people disagree with you.

        • hithere

          But many more people agree with me. If you don’t want white people saying the n-word ending in an A then don’t say it in conversation with your black buddies ie what up my n—-!

          • Concerned

            That is not for you to decide as the black community has chosen to reclaim the word. The history of oppression has not changed. It is their choice whether they choose to say it and it has nothing to do with you whatsoever.

          • hithere

            That’s a double standard and that’s never going to work. If the word offends you you should never say it. If it doesn’t then you should have no problem with other races saying it.

    • A white guy tired of racial BS

      Get. Over. Yourself.

    • AnonStudent

      I’m fairly certain that the “rumors” being referred to are those that state that SAE sent its pledges out to commit a hate-crime. I find it shocking that people were so quick to believe the absolute worst of what they were hearing, and immediately lash out at this fraternity without even attempting to gather any more information. In no way am I saying that the event is excusable, not by a long shot, but it’s appalling to me how fast this whole incident spiraled out of control. There were posts on Facebook that read “I don’t feel safe on campus anymore”….Really? Because someone read the lyrics to a rap song aloud and make a very poor and insensitive choice of words? I understand that this was extremely offensive, but it seems like an overreaction to say that you no longer feel “safe.” I’m just glad that the true nature of these events are finally starting to emerge, as now the situation can be dealt with appropriately.

      • HelloMyNameIsAlumDoo

        Exactly. While this is still extremely offensive, I do have to say that the individuals on Facebook on referred to this a a “C— Hunt” and a “N—– Hunt” never once corrected themselves once the truth was revealed.

        You have the right to be offended and respond emotionally to a situation such as this, however, failing to correct a false statement during a sensitive time is nothing short of incendiary and irresponsible.

    • Anonymous

      B/c it’s totally more logical and not racist to mark a word as racist and ban its use than to defuse the meaning/racial intent of that word in the first place

  • Concerned Alumnus

    The only people being racist are the ones who are turning this situation into the wildfire it has become. I’m ashamed by the spineless school administration for throwing SAE under the bus like they have before gathering the facts.

  • HelloMyNameIsAlumDoo

    FINALLY, the facts come out. This story has come a LONG way from the rumors I saw of “SAE kids going on a “N—– Hunt taking pictures of black kids and saying the N-word to them”. The SAE kids weren’t lying when they said the picture they were talking was of something behind the black students and nothing in the scavenger hunt had ANYTHING to do with race or racism.

    However, in the broad scheme, the whole situation has brought up a lot of discussion, which is a good thing moving forward. It is unfortunate that the kid used the word in the poetry reading of a rap song, but the kid had enough sense to apologize, and that should be enough, given the facts and overall context. Imagine if someone jokingly called a friend a f—– in front of a gay person, realized what they had done, then sincerely apologized to that person for offending them. Would that be national news? Words can offend, and they did here, but can we at least agree that this was wayyyyyyyyy overblown?

    The witch-hunt needs to end. SAE does not deserve anything more than a slap on a wrist for this incident, in all honesty. The word is offensive, ignorant, and shocking, but it was not used with malicious intent here, nor was anything targeted towards black students of our community. It opens up an avenue for discussion at a university, but progress can never be achieved when BOTH sides of an argument rely on heresay and emotion in their statements, and not rationality and context.

  • Ann Onymous

    Studlife, you are a joke. Why didnt you try and get any of this info before printing all that crap yesterday

    • Kayla

      because then studlife would have been called a joke for not reporting on it all?

  • A white guy tired of racial BS

    Where’s your hate crime now? Yeah, that’t what I thought.

    Seriously whoever kept posting about this being such a huge affront, get over yourselves.

  • Kai Jones

    It was a pledge class rapping a song with a word that has been used for centuries to disenfranchise a group of people. The problem here is ignorance. The pledges and some of these commentators have no clue what is racially charged or offensive. That is because they have the priviledge of not knowing or understanding African American history. All those boys know about the N-word is N– in Paris and Lil’ Wayne because they lack an understanding of black culture. They don’t know or do not care about the use of the word in the past because in their minds we have coalesced into a post-racial society. They do not see the same images that I do when I hear the word. I do not care what their original intent was. Ignorance is not innocence and they need to be accountable for their actions.

    • iloveulongtime

      If you think white people aren’t allowed to say the N-word while reciting written words in a non-inflammatory way you’re the one who is ignorant.

      • HelloMyNameIsAlumDoo

        You’re both ignorant for chrissakes.

        Kai Jones, its ignorant for you to assume that as a white person, all I know about the N-word is from rap songs because I lack an understanding of black culture. I may not feel the sting of the word that a black person may, how could I? However, the circumstances of my upbringing, my education, and my common sense make it so I can’t help but cringe when I hear it spoken in a non-appropriate context. I know about the history of the word and its connection to racism. Assuming that I lack empathy because I disagree with some of the aspects of this story’s reporting and some of the comments does nothing more than continue to divide in discussions like this.

        iloveulongtime, you’re the other part of the problem. Applying this to “reciting written words” is an over-simplification and you’re simply fanning the flames in hopes of arguing over the who is “allowed” to say n*****. In the way I see it, a white person saying the word is forgiveable/non-inflammatory if its in an academic context, its read from a novel (Huck Finn), or if someone is so carried away in the music that it slips out (granted, this might require an “Oops, didn’t mean that”). However, white people don’t have a “free pass” when it comes to the word and the SAE in question should have realized that saying the lyric would be inappropriate. Rapping or not, it is offensive for a white person to say the word in front of black students, intentional or not, and this is NOT an issue of fairness.

        • WU’83

          The nword has been around for generations. It is hard to believe that anyone born in (media-driven) America is not hip to the fact that the word is derogatory. The student’s apology made it clear that he was quite aware of his wrong in the situation. He made a poor choice for the sake of exclusive membership. #Accountability

        • hithere

          If you’re so upset about the n-word then go protest outside of record companies and the homes of rappers. They are the ones demeaning its meaning and legitimizing its usage.

      • hithere

        This was a public performance by a pledge using his unique skill-set in slam poetry. This was not inflammatory in anyway.

    • Urkiddingmeright

      We already had this debate in the 90s. Spoiler alert: The n-word in lyrics is not going anywhere, mostly due to its use by black artists. So what is your point really? That someone needs to understand black culture to be able to recite lyrics from a song? Urkiddingmeright

    • bradley cooper

      I’m sorry that you get upset when you hear the n-word, but like Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”, you can’t live your life going crazy every time you hear your trigger word/song. You can’t control what other people do, you can only control how you feel about it

    • hithere

      I’m sorry, I was under the impression that racism required conscious, malicious action directed at members of another race. Now you’re telling me that I may be a unintentional racist merely due to my ignorance? Give me a break. Its statements like this that cause the black community to lose support for their legitimate causes. Its really unfortunate.

      • Anonymous

        You CAN be unintentionally racist due to your ignorance (or rather your words and actions can be unintentionally racist, I like to give the person as a whole the benefit of the doubt). Example: When I was in kindergarten, my friend told me that I couldn’t ever marry a white person because blacks and whites aren’t supposed to marry each other. Was that statement racist? Yes. Was it unintentionally racist. Definitely. The kid was 5 years old for Christ’s sake and was just repeating what their backward’s grandmother had told them. I used an example from when I was so young so you can see the clear ignorance involved in the situation. Racist actions and words aren’t always due to malicious intent, especially when born out of sheer ignorance. That doesn’t mean the actions and words themselves weren’t racist. Does that make sense? I’m not even trying to argue here, people have been asking for black people to help them understand our perspective and experiences, so I’m just trying to get you to see where I’m coming from. I hope you’re open to that :)

        • hithere

          I think a lot of this is difficult because the definitions and distinctions aren’t completely clear. When can someone use the N-word? When is an action racist? When should someone be punished?

          Here’s the definitions of racism that I got out of a dictionary: Abusive or aggressive behaviour towards members of another race on the basis of intrinsic superiority over that race.

          To me that sounds like you need to believe you are superior to another race and then act on that idea (intent is required).

          Did this pledges actions offend? Yes. Were they meant to offend? Based on the evidence probably not. Was he sympathetic to the idea that he might have been offensive? Yes, given his apology. Was there malicious intent? No. Should he be punished? I would say he does not deserve to be expelled nor have any mark on his record. I think he, along with the rest of the WashU community, could benefit from organized discussions. This moves everyone in the right direction. Forcing this pledge to leave school just leaves everyone with a bitter taste.

          • Anonymous

            Okay since my previous statement was somewhat well received, I’m going to keep trying to explain things from the opposite side.

            I understand what you are saying about the definition from the dictionary. Now take that definition and put it into the context of the situation from the black students’ perspectives. “Abusive behavior” here would be rapping the Dr. Dre song. (I’m not going to get all up in arms about free speech and what not right now, I’m just trying to frame the perspective.) You are listening to some student perform a rap song and others are laughing. He’s essentially making a mockery of it and then goes and says the N-word right in front of you even though he knows you are listening and you are clearly bothered by the whole thing from the beginning. You were told to show some respect (“intrinsic superiority”) and then told you shouldn’t be upset because it was part of a song (“intrinsic superiority”). That is why it was perceived as racism. I’m not saying you have to completely understand it or agree with it, especially since you weren’t the one living it. But does that make a little more sense as to why people have been calling the act unintentionally racist and why that term is valid?

  • Graduated in 02

    What a phenomenally stupid thing to do. This doesn’t really constitute hazing in the mass-media sense, but there are a lot of points on that list that do nothing but reinforce the idea of classic fraternity life as being one of sexist, racist, self-important white guys.
    This is the third frat getting itself into major trouble in the last year. At what point does IFC and Greek Life step in and say, “seriously, you nitwits, get your acts together?”
    Greek life oughta be better than this. Seems a real shame that another frat’s making the whole school look bad.

    • iloveulongtime

      I just looked at their group photo and it seems like they have every race represented so your “self-important white guys” comment doesn’t really hold.

      • Graduated in 02

        My comment was related to the image (I even used the phrase “the idea of classic fraternity life” right in that post), not the reality.
        That’s the issue here, IMO. Not so much what the guys did (other people have that debated up one side and down the other) but that nobody thought to step in and say, “maybe scratch points 5 and 8″ or whatever, because by doing those things, they reinforced the stereotype.

    • Urkiddingmeright

      The only ones making the school look bad are the self-important idiots that blew this story up into something it never was. And the administration/Studlife for allowing it to happen.

  • Hithere

    All the evidence points to nothing inflamatory. The n-word was said as part of a lyric to a song. This is getting ridiculous.

  • Ann onnymous

    Studlife, please realize the extent of your actions. STOP using inflammatory language, the African American student were NOT approached when these kids took a picture. They simply happened to be in the line of sight. This is irresponsible, sensationalist journalism ( if you can even call it journalism) designed to get a rise out of people. STOP

  • anon131313

    None of these tasks seem to be intended to be racist. In fact, many of these tasks are blatantly misogynistic and sexist. That seems to be the real issue here.

    • Ally

      “eating a dog?” I wonder what the race of the person who was asked to do that was.

  • Anon

    There is more racism involved in how this situation is being handled than in what actually happened. It is clear that these kids were just doing a harmless scavenger hunt, as I’m sure many other members of greek life have done. They had to take a photo of a kid in a corner, which, as you can see from the list, had nothing to do with African Americans. Therefore, the kids didn’t even notice or acknowledge the fact that they were near a table that was all black kids. And why should they have? The fact that they didn’t draw these conclusions only shows a lack of racism. Yes, the fact that someone used the N-word in front of blacks was an offensive oversight. That being said, considering its prominence in popular culture, accidentally saying it in a song is completely different from using it maliciously. Clearly the kids did not have skin color in mind, and the fact that it’s being brought into this unrelated situation is what makes this truly racist.

    • WU’83

      “Offensive oversight”? Give me a break. #Accountability

  • WU Bear

    I’m glad to see a more fair reporting of the incident today rather than the inflammatory rumor filled report from yesterday’s Student Life article. That article by Student Life is what helped prompt the firestorm and accusations being tossed around without full facts coming to light. Clearly it was poor judgement on the parts of the freshmen (and likely the SAE pledge process) but it certainly appears there was no malcontent or hate behind the actions.

    This incident should be used as an opportunity for discussion. We on campus should engage in a dialogue and bring people together to educate as opposed to break them apart and further divide.

    • Alum

      WashU should also engage in a discussion regarding responsible journalistic practices and the repercussions of erroneous character assassinations.

  • WUAlum06

    I read a lot of articles about how ridiculous Wash U is, but I think this one takes the cake. Why does everyone take things so seriously? It was a pledge rapping a song. Bottom line. Any objective person can see that the group of black students had nothing to do with it and made it about them. This is 2013. These SAE kids obviously are not racist. Rather than worrying so much about “sensitivity,” Wash U needs to be teaching its students to be a bit more rational.

    • Kelsey Times

      I think you do have valid points – the whole situation was definitely a misunderstanding and ignorance, not malice, was the root of the event. However, using the N-word in front of black people is a very serious thing not to be taken lightly. It’s more than a matter of “sensitivity,” as it historically has been used to denigrate blacks and to reinforce white superiority. Yes, it’s part of the song. And, yes, a black man originally raps it. Yet, that doesn’t mean that every black person is okay with it’s use – certainly not by a group of white kids that seem ignorant of its historical meaning.

      Also, please keep in mind that when you say, “This is 2013,” that means absolutely nothing. Racial hostility, discrimination, and violence STILL permeate our society despite the fact that we have an African American president in office, despite the fact that we have integrated schools, public facilities, and other “equal” rights as citizens. We do not live in a post-racial society, let me be clear.

      And because, as African Americans, we engage in daily battles against prejudice and micro-aggressions, that, I suppose, makes us “sensitive” to the indiscriminate use of the N-word.

      Bottom line, a group of students felt not only hurt, but humiliated. Let’s not be so quick to judge how “rational” they’re feelings are before we understand what engendered their response.

      • Bob Loblaw

        Except it was a popular rap song, not a racist rant. He was literally reciting a song that was written by black rappers. If it isn’t okay for a white person to recite this song, why is it acceptable in Black culture to produce songs like this in the first place? There is definitely a double standard here you are failing to address.

        • Zach

          Someone posted this yesterday and I think this man makes a cogent point as to how this is not a double standard. Words are situational and take on different meanings given our relationships to the words and those around us.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yDMd9g1oSA

        • WUAlum06

          Thank you! I completely agree. PS Great name!

        • Concerned

          The fact of the matter is that a group of people felt targeted. That’s it. Discussion of the n-word and who can/can’t use it based on its reclamation will be a debate forever. That is an aside.

          A group of students feel targeted/unsafe in their “inclusive community” and that is the real atrocity. You cannot tell them how to feel. What your post, Bob Loblaw, is saying is that this does not matter and they should take those feelings lightly. That is unfair, unreasonable, and unjust.

          • hithere

            Oftentimes white people feel unsafe and targeted by black people that try to rob them at gunpoint. Using your logic, its unfair for black people to be offended if white people call the cops on them if they feel unsafe.

          • Alum

            The group that felt targeted WASN’T being targeted.

            The “atrocity” is that the black students in question automatically jumped to the conclusion that their peers were racist and intended to antagonize them. They are the ones who ought to do some self-reflection — perhaps on the negative assumptions they have about their non-black peers.

        • Anonymous

          White supremsists musical groups also make “popular rap songs.” Would it then be ok for someone to recite those songs on campus? Many songs, including popular Eminem songs use the word f—– in them. Is it okay to go to a Pride meeting and recite the lyrics. There is no hate behind it. It’s just a popular song. By your logic, the fact that it is a song, yes it is okay. It’s not a double standard. It’s just logic. Being a popular song does NOT make it okay to recite in public. You’re an adult. Think like one.

      • Alum

        Why did they feel hurt and humiliated? Because they made a negative snap judgment of one of their non-black peers. Instead of giving the pledges the benefit of the doubt, or at least the opportunity to explain themselves, they just assumed the worst (because the rapping student wasn’t black).

        What is it called again when people make character judgements about other people based on their skin color?

    • Friend to People

      “Any objective person” I think this flies in the face of what it means to be human.

      No person nor incident is an island. Try again.

    • Alumna

      “This is 2013. These SAE kids obviously are not racist.”

      What makes your conclusion so obvious? I hope the second sentence does not depend on the first.

    • Anonymous

      I know a ton of really racist WashU students. Like really, legitimately, hatefully, racist, not jokingly so. This being 2013 does not mean racism does not still exist in colleges.

    • WU’83

      The fact that this rapping student (and his pledge brothers) were comfortable enough to speak offensively in front of the black students speaks volumes. Racist? Yes. Unfortunate? Yes, indeed.