By Rosie Kean and Lindsey Collins
Senior staff writers
A noose was found inside of the University of Maryland Phi Kappa Tau chapter house on Fraternity Row last Thursday, according to University Police.
On April 27, at 11:39 p.m., University Police responded to the chapter’s house for an incident that occurred earlier that day. Between 1:30 p.m. and 1:45 p.m., a noose was found inside the building, police spokeswoman Sgt. Rosanne Hoaas said. University Police are investigating the event as a hate bias incident.
Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life Director Matt Supple sent an email Wednesday to Greek Life chapter presidents saying that a noose was found hanging in the kitchen.
“While we do not know who perpetrated this crime, it has impacted the catering staff, the housekeeping staff and every member of the fraternity,” the email read. “We all bear responsibility to confront bias/hate when we see it. Sadly, this is one more example of hatred and prejudice that continue to poison our society. We must stand together in defiance of this act. We need to ensure people who would perpetrate this type of hate know they do not belong and are not welcome in our chapters, in our community, at the University of Maryland, or in our society.”
Phi Kappa Tau President A.J. Coleman released a written statement Wednesday night in response to the incident.
“We are shocked and appalled,” Coleman wrote. “The chapter’s reaction to this event has been confusion and outrage. For all of us, it is beyond the realm of belief that anyone could have perpetrated such a heinous act.”
University President Wallace Loh called the incident “despicable.”
“I resolutely condemn the use of a symbol of violence and hatred for the purpose of intimidating members of our University of Maryland community,” Loh said in a statement. “All of us — students, faculty, staff, alumni — stand united in our commitment to core values of human dignity, diversity, inclusiveness, and intellectual freedom. We stand against such craven expressions of bigotry.”
Tim Hudson, the chief executive officer of the fraternity’s national chapter, condemned the incident.
“Phi Kappa Tau is committed to providing an environment free of discrimination for all our fraternity members, guests, employees and volunteers.” he wrote in a statement. “These actions do not align with Phi Kappa Tau’s values and any association of intolerant behavior is not consistent with the operations of the Fraternity’s chapter at the University of Maryland.”
In a statement released Wednesday night, Interfraternity Council President Ross Brannigan called on the organization to address issues of racism on the campus.
“To say this only reflects the actions of an individual is to deny that there is a problem,” the statement read. “It is to deny that this issue exists in our culture … IFC organizations should strive to create a safe and inclusive environment, yet we have consistently failed to demonstrate behavior to support that objective. We can say this does not reflect our values, yet this is an issue we consistently address.”
DFSL is working with the fraternity’s leadership to address this incident, Supple’s statement read.
This university’s Student Government Association also issued a statement condemning the incident and calling for transparency from university police and cooperation from DFSL.
“For many of us, talking about racism on this campus can be uncomfortable — that does not mean we should not talk about it,” the statement read. “More than ever, we need to support marginalized groups on this campus by joining in actions and discussions about these issues.”
A similar incident occurred at American University in Washington, D.C., on Monday, when bananas were found hanging from nooses in three places on the school’s campus. Writing on the bananas read “HARAMBE BAIT” and “AKA FREE,” the letters of predominately black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. Newly elected student body president Taylor Dumpson, the first black female president in American University’s student government history, is a member of AKA and took office the same day.
A racist incident associated with a fraternity from this university occurred in 2014. An offensive email sent in January 2014 by a former member of this university’s Kappa Sigma fraternity chapter surfaced in 2015. The email told fraternity members — through the use of various racial slurs — to avoid inviting black, Indian and Asian women to their rush parties. Loh said the email expressed “views that are reprehensible to our campus community.”
Panhellenic Association President Shelby Brown said in a statement Thursday morning she was “disgusted that these events have evolved from emails to physical acts of hatred.”
“These events implicate deeper problems of racism present in the Greek community,” the statement read. “It is repulsive knowing that these racial beliefs continue to plague our council and our community.”
This university’s National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Multicultural Greek Council chose not to participate in this year’s Spring Fest claiming members faced disappointing experiences and cultural appropriation. The NPHC is made up of nine historically black fraternities and sororities, while the MGC governs culturally-based fraternities and sororities.
Tatyanna Clark, a freshman psychology major who identifies as black, said the incident is evidence of a divide between white and minority populations on the campus.
“I’m kind of not surprised because of the social nature of this school. There’s like a disconnect between students of color and white students,” she said.
Jalon Dobbins, a junior economics major, called the recent racist instances on college campuses shameful.
“It’s an evil history that still exists in this country. Obviously you have to acknowledge it,” Dobbins said. “It’s everyone’s social responsibility to. Things like this do happen and it’s the reality of living in America as a black person, as a minority. It’s just the climate, especially with the recent presidential election.”
Brianna Anderson, a senior criminology and criminal justice major who identifies as black, called the incident disheartening.
“It’s very sad that in today’s society that things like this can still happen, especially on a campus that is very diverse and tries to include everyone, so it’s like all this training and all this inclusion we’ve been working on has not really been doing much,” she said.
The campus has experienced other racist incidents this year, including several instances of white nationalist posters.
In March, such posters were found in the Chemistry Building, Jeong H. Kim Engineering Building, the courtyard between the A.V. Williams Building and the Computer Science Instructional Center and on a dumpster outside of Symons Hall. Police investigated the incident as a hate bias incident.
The posters directed students to the website of Vanguard America, whose manifesto states, “Our America is to be a nation exclusively for the White American peoples.” In December 2016 white nationalist posters were also reported at Marie Mount Hall, Tydings Hall, the Lee Building and LeFrak Hall.
CORRECTION: Due to an error, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated police responded to the house on April 28. Police responded April 27. This story has been updated.