Fraternity suspended — but not for its controversial party
Duke University has suspended the fraternity at the center of a furor over a controversial party — but not because of that event.
The interim suspension “has nothing to do with the Asian-theme party,” said Larry Moneta, the university’s vice president for student affairs. “In my meeting [with leaders of the Kappa Sigma fraternity] we discovered other issues that are being investigated.”
Moneta said that he was “not able to share anything further about the basis for the interim suspension.”
The future status of the fraternity, Moneta wrote in an email to the entire student body, “will be subject to decisions made by their national organization in consultation with Duke.”
Though “the party itself was offensive and may not necessarily have violated the formal rules of the Duke Community Standard, the fraternity faces serious consequences,” Moneta warned.
The action by Duke officials follows the suspension of the local Eta Prime chapter by the national Kappa Sigma organization, based in Virginia. Mitch Wilson, the executive director of the national organization, said last week that the chapter would be suspended and all its activities and events prohibited while an investigation determines the status of its charter.
The chapter found itself in hot water after it sent out invitations for the Feb. 1 “Asia Prime” party that mimicked stereotypical accented Asian speech and closed with “We look forward to having Mi, Yu, You and Yo Friends over for some Sake. … Chank You.”
Complaints about the invitation were made to Moneta’s office, and staff at student affairs encouraged the fraternity not to go ahead with the party. But after changing the party’s name to “International Relations,” the fraternity went ahead and costumed students at the event wore conical hats, sumo wrestler suits and geisha outfits.
Many on Duke’s campus were outraged, calling the party racist. More than 200 students gathered last Friday to voice their complaints and anger, demand punishment for the fraternity and its members and call for changes in the Duke culture.
In his email to students, Moneta wrote that the administration intends to “work with student leaders … and the Greek Councils to find ways to prevent yet another recurrence of this unacceptable behavior.”
Ultimately, though, he said, “students can demand reforms by voicing objection and refusing to attend any event that demeans others.”