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Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity on Washington University suspended over possible racial stunt

3:56 AM, Mar 1, 2013   |    comments
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ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - A Washington University fraternity was suspended Thursday from participating in any activities as punishment for an allegedly racist stunt on campus involving pledges for the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

Both the school and fraternity's national affiliate are heading separate investigations on the matter.

The incident is said to have occurred Tuesday night in a dining hall located in a residential part of campus.

According to Washington University student newspaper Student Life, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledges, all freshmen, were given a scavenger hunt to complete. As part of that task, they took a photo with a group of African-American students with a pledge standing with his face in the corner behind them.

An anonymous tipster turned in the list and a photo to the student paper. Students said the pledges later recited racists rap lyrics to the group.

A university spokesperson said the fraternity pledges were mostly freshmen, adding the African-American students were upset and offended.

And while it may be difficult to find anyone willing to defend the actions of the fraternity or the pledges, some students believe the actions were intended to be racist.

"The intention wasn't to be hurtful," said Samara Levine, a senior at Washington University. "People need to think more. People need to be aware. And people should have immediately apologized."

Sharon Stahl, Vice Chancellor for Students, added, "I want to think...that it was not the intent of these students. That it was poor judgment. But it still doesn't excuse what happened. And it doesn't diminish what happened. And it's time for us as a community to really reflect on why something like this happened in our community."

In the meantime, the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon organization issued a cease-and-desist order to the local chapter pending the outcome of its investigation and said in a statement that it offers its "apologies to both the campus and local communities."


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