- INSULTS AND STUPIDITY LEADS TO SUSPENSION
- TRAGEDY LEADS TO OFF-CAMPUS FRATERNITY SYSTEM
- STRATFORD HEIGHTS
- BALANCING UNIVERSITY NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICIES AND THE FIRST AMENDMENT: THE CLASH BETWEEN UGA AND BYX
- APPEAL FILED IN AEPI FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION CASE
- HAZING: A PRIMER AND REMINDER
Newsletter > January 2007 > "INSULTS AND STUPIDITY LEADS TO SUSPENSION"
INSULTS AND STUPIDITY LEADS TO SUSPENSION
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sophomoric humor at the expense of racial or cultural minorities has enormous opportunity to bring disrepute to fraternal organizations whose members engage in it. Such was the case when the Sigma Chi Chapter at John Hopkins University held a party with the theme of “Halloween in the Hood.” According to press reports, invitations posted on the Facebook web site urged guests to adorn themselves in “bling,” “grills,” and “hoochie hoops.” Part of the party decorations allegedly included a skeleton hanging from a noose. Black students at the University, as well as the Baltimore Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People properly took great offense.
The University suspended the chapter pending an investigation and Sigma Chi International imposed a 45-day suspension while it investigated.
A December 1, 2006 UPI story reported that the University banned an 18-year old freshman from campus until January of 2008 and require that he engage in 300 hours of community service and read and write reports on 12 books. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and some 30 students were reported to have protested the punishment.
Whether such conduct was done with innocent intentions or not, it almost always results in a negative reaction against the organization that engages in it. Legal questions exist as to who can punish such conduct. As discussed at length in prior issues of Fraternal Law, state universities may not punish for such speech related conduct. However, a private social organization whose disciplinary rules include broadly stated prohibitions against bringing the organization into ill-repute may, consistent with its own rules, impose disciplinary sanctions for such conduct.
See: “It’s Ugly But It’s Free Speech,” Fraternal Law, September 1993; “Klan Costumes and Black Face – Can Anyone Punish,” Fraternal Law, January 2002; and “Klan Costumes or Black Face – The Aftermath,” Fraternal Law, March 2002.