Crude ‘welcome’ banners lead to frat suspension at Virginia campus

Three sexually suggestive banners erected by students at a Virginia university and aimed at parents dropping off their freshman daughters were probably meant to be funny.

But the joke backfired on the implicated fraternity members whose chapter has now been suspended and who may face disciplinary action by Old Dominion University.

The administration and students of Old Dominion University reacted with outrage to these signs allegedly made and hung by frat members. (Twitter photo)

The administration and students of Old Dominion University reacted with outrage to these signs allegedly made and hung by frat members. (Twitter photo)

Parents delivering their freshmen to the campus on move-in day were greeted by three bed sheets hanging from the balcony of nearby off-campus housing allegedly rented to Sigma Nu members.

The signs proclaimed: “Rowdy and fun, hope your baby girl is ready for a good time,” “Freshman Daughter Drop Off” and “Go ahead and Drop Off Mom Too.”

News reports from the scene indicate parents were not amused, although a few students saw humor in the banners. In its excellent story on the incident, the Virginian-Pilot reports:

Rachael Holiday, a 19-year-old sophomore and computer science major, said she saw the banners Friday while working as a resident assistant, welcoming new students and parents to the university. Most of those parents wanted the banners taken down and said they were thinking about taking their daughters out of ODU.

Holiday said the signs made her mad and that she didn’t blame the parents.

“If I had a kid here, I’d turn right back around,” she said.

Holiday was walking off campus with Logan Goff, also a 19-year-old sophomore, majoring in administration of justice. Goff said he saw both sides. If he were a father bringing his child to school for the first time, he’d be angry. But as a college kid, he said, he thought it was a funny joke and that people were taking it too seriously. “There are worse things,” he said. “People are so touchy.”

In quick order, the sheets came down and the prank was denounced by the president of Old Dominion, the national office of Sigma Nu and the university vice president.

In a Facebook message Saturday, Old Dominion President John R. Broderick wrote:

 I am outraged about the offensive message directed toward women that was visible for a time on 43rd Street. Our students, campus community and alumni have been offended.

While we constantly educate students, faculty and staff about sexual assault and sexual harassment, this incident confirms our collective efforts are still failing to register with some. A young lady I talked to earlier today courageously described the true meaning of the hurt this caused. She thought seriously about going back home.

But she was heartened, she explained, when she saw how fellow students were reacting to this incident on social media. She realized this callous and senseless act did not reflect the Old Dominion she has come to love.

I said at my State of the University address that there is zero tolerance on this campus for sexual assault and sexual harassment. This incident will be reviewed immediately by those on campus empowered to do so. Any student found to have violated the code of conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.

In a statement Monday, Brad Beacham, Sigma Nu Fraternity executive director, said:

Sigma Nu Fraternity has suspended the activities of the Eta Chi Chapter at Old Dominion University pending completion of an investigation into offensive banners displayed from an off-campus, privately-owned property near the ODU campus last week. The Fraternity condemns the derogatory and demeaning language used on the banners. Such language has no place in our Fraternity or within any caring community, such as that of ODU. Any Fraternity member found to be responsible for this reprehensible display will be held accountable by the Fraternity. Initial reports regarding the banners indicated that no Fraternity member had involvement with the banners.

However, additional information received by the Fraternity today indicates that some chapter members may have had involvement with the banners. Upon completion of its investigation, the Fraternity will take action in accordance with its principles and code of conduct. The Fraternity will remain in close communication with ODU administrators throughout its investigation and review.

In a message this weekend, Old Dominion Vice President of Student Engagement and Enrollment Services Ellen Neufeldt said:

Messages like the ones displayed yesterday by a few students on the balcony of their private residence are not and will not be tolerated. The moment University staff became aware of these banners, they worked to have them removed. At ODU, we foster a community of respect and dignity and these messages sickened us. They are not representative of our 3,000 faculty and staff, 25,000 students and our 130,000 alumni.

Ours is a community that works actively to promote bystander intervention and takes a stand denouncing violence against women. The “It’s on Us” video is just one example of ODU students’ leadership on this topic.

In addition, the University ensures all students receive education on the prevention of sexual harassment and relationship violence.

Any student found to have violated the code of conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.

 

Reader Comments 0

30 comments
Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Ah yes, welcome to "America - Home of the Offended".  


Stupid?  Yes.

"News" worthy?   Hell no.


With fifty channels belching 24 hour "news", this is what you get.


Wascatlady
Wascatlady

My system, for at least the last 40 years, has scheduled nothing for Wednesday evenings, in deference to the many Baptists around.  They may not go to church, but they want no part of scheduling anything for Wednesday!  Why does that take precedence over band performances, PTA meetings, or anything else for the school?

bu2
bu2

@Wascatlady 

Methodists, not just Baptists, schedule things for Wednesdays.  Looked at a Presbyterian site and they seem to use Wednesday nights for their meetings.  Scheduling on Wednesdays would be to exclude active church members.


Why should the school try to interfere with known outside activities?  Like scheduling tests on Yom Kippur?

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

Otter: But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg - isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!


"Animal House"

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

Not particularly funny, but the "outrage" is a bit much.

The college should have just asked them to take down the signs, and that would have been that. Instead they release a presser?....The world is so soft.

Carlos_Castillo
Carlos_Castillo

The university president doth protest too much.   Many of the on-campus residence halls are already co-ed.  https://www.odu.edu/life/housing/on-campus-housing/residences  For instance, England house is: "Single gender within room; hallways co-ed"


One suspects that the off campus neo-frat house was trying to get in on the action on campus.  


Once you get away from elite schools, it may not be wise to make so many poor choices so readily available to the average curious student.


It ought not to be surprising that college is stretching so often to 6 years.  We're certainly not in Kansas, anymore.

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

Every single person getting "offended" by this (and what do we not get offended by these days) is a complete hypocrite.  It's exactly the behavior they once engaged in when they were 18.

redweather
redweather

@RichardKPE Speak for yourself.  And EVEN IF what you say is/was true, there's no reason why it should be tolerated then, now, or in the future.  Just because "everyone does it" doesn't mean we have to accept or ignore it.

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

@redweather @RichardKPE 18-22 year olds that want to have sex with other 18-22 year olds is about the least surprising thing since the boat sunk in the Titanic movie.  What are people mad about?  That it was actually written down instead of just a thought?


If anything, lets all praise these kids for their honesty.

TaxiSmith
TaxiSmith

I think we get "outraged" a little too often these days. You should be happy Social Media wasn't around when YOU were in college. Get a life.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

And to think that parents somewhere are stupid enough to sent these knucklehead frat boys to school 

davidg32
davidg32

A good friend of mine took me to a Notre Dame football game a few years back, and just about half the windows in most of the dormitories had posters of the ND "Fighting Leprechaun" with the "Wake Up the Echoes!" legend written beneath it.  Only everyone had taken scissors and modified the posters by cutting out the "Ec" so the posters all said:  "Wake Up the hoes!"

popcornular
popcornular

Same guys that crush beer cans on their heads. You see a lot of Ed majors at their parties, I hear. 

Moderate_line
Moderate_line

My first thought is there is worse than this in the literature class. " Lady Chatterley's Lover" by D.H. Lawerence, "Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller and "A Farewell To Arms", Ernest Hemingway.


I think the main problem is you have an institution of higher learning and the first thing parents see when they pull up are these signs. Even if you think this is overblown this does not help the university or the fraternities image. I would say that binge drinking is a bigger issue when it comes to sexual assault. It easier to get someone to take a sign down than to stop campus drinking.

bu2
bu2

@Moderate_line 


I saw this and the college's reaction and thought the signs would be a whole lot worse.


Basically, they are hanging signs that say, "We like girls."  Duh.


Its really quite informative.  Girls should be careful around Sigma Nu.  They do stupid things even when sober.

Astropig
Astropig

Wow! Did Bill Clinton decide to go back to college?

MissDaisyCook
MissDaisyCook

Oh the horror!  Red blooded, American fraternity boys doing what red blooded, American fraternity boys do; look for girls.  Who woulda thunk it.  What a whinny, thin-skinned, wussifed culture we are now living in.  

RomanLegions
RomanLegions

A poor decision for sure to do the dumb prank, and they will be punished . But go ahead call the State Dept., the Pentagon, blah blah..and blow it waaaay outta proportion. 

redweather
redweather

"Initial reports regarding the banners indicated that no Fraternity member had involvement with the banners."


Yeah, right.  Why not make things ten times worse by lying about this. 

EdumacateThat
EdumacateThat

@redweather You know, sometimes those banners just hang themselves up.  Had to laugh at their half-arse approach to do damage control.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

They went for the shock effect and got it.

18 and 19 year old women oughta know better than to visit and/or have anything to do with frat brats.

It's nothing new.

1857---Sigma Phi---Jenkins Holland tells the "tail". 

class80olddog
class80olddog

How many times can sororities and fraternities shoot themselves in the feet?

SV23
SV23

This newspaper column clearly has an obsession with college fraternities and sororities. 

But with all the truly serious issues afflicting public education today—are the hijinks of a handful of college boys really worth the space?

redweather
redweather

@SV23 Yeah, they are.  Especially when you consider that at most colleges and universities a majority of the students are females.

SV23
SV23

@redweather

... who will get to decide which males merit their time. Right?

coj
coj

Every generation has it's idiots.