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University sanctions Theta Xi for planned “Hood Ratchet” party

Paul Sherman/Daily
LSA senior Eric Quang, president of the Theta Xi Fraternity, and LSA junior Allen Wu listen to oral arguments at a hearing on Nov. 19 at the Michigan Union concerning the fraternity's planned racially-charged party theme. Buy this photo

By Alicia Adamczyk, Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 23, 2013

Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones and the Greek Activities Review Panel — the judicial body for the Panhellenic Association, the Interfraternity Council, the National Panhellenic Council and the Multicultural Greek Council — announced Monday that the University’s chapter of the Theta Xi fraternity will be suspended from the IFC pending completion of five sanctions requested by the panel. The suspension comes in the wake of an offensive “Hood Ratchet”-themed party planned in October.

The “Hood Ratchet” party — created by LSA junior Allen Wu, a brother of the fraternity — went viral online and elicited outrage from many people across campus who viewed it as being both sexist and racist. The party promised a twerking contest and used terms such as “bad bitches” and “ratchet pussy” to refer to female guests.

The party was later cancelled and Jones sent an e-mail to the University community condemning the incident, stating it was against University standards and “denigrated all women and African American/black identified people.”

Music, Theatre & Dance senior Erica Nagy and LSA seniors Erin Fischer and Brian Thomas brought a case against the fraternity in November, alleging that it violated sections of the Standards of Conduct for Recognized Student Organizations. GARP, which oversaw the disciplinary hearing in November, supported their allegations in its official decision, saying that Theta Xi violated the Non-Discrimination provision of the Standards of Conduct.

“Throughout the hearing, testimony by both the plaintiff and the defendant, as well as their witnesses, left no doubt in the minds of the GARP Justices that the actions of Theta Xi created an environment that prompted feelings of anger, appropriation, and disappointment not only within students of color and women, but the entire University community,” the University’s official decision statement read.

LSA senior Eric Quang, Theta Xi's president, and Wu could not be reached for comment Monday.

GARP, which is comprised of five members of the Greek community, recommended that Theta Xi be required to design “an educational program on issues of race and gender” for the Winter 2014 Social Meeting of Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association Chapter Officers and that every member of the fraternity attend a Bystander Intervention Workshop sponsored by the University’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center and attend a CommonGround Workshop.

Additionally, Theta Xi must initiate a conversation on race relations at the Winter 2014 IMPACT Weekend, which is a retreat attended by the chapter and council presidents of each of the four Greek councils. Additionally, the decision stated that the fraternity should develop and host an education seminar open to the public that will “embody the education that Theta Xi will have undergone through their previously completed sanctions.”

In the official decision, GARP noted that Theta Xi’s actions “do not represent the extent to which these issues plague the University community,” and that further action on campus is necessary to combat social injustices.

“It is undeniable that the lack of understanding and bias illustrated here extends far beyond the membership of one organization,” the statement read.

The University upheld GARP’s sanctions and confirmed that the fraternity will be suspended until each sanction is carried out — noting that they must be completed no later than May 1, 2014. According to the statement, Theta Xi will retain some of the rights associated with being a student organization throughout the sanction process in order to help the fraternity educate itself on race and gender-related issues.

“The University also has confirmed that the Theta Xi national organization and headquarters staff will continue to work with the University and the fraternity, in a concerted fashion, to appropriately limit some aspects of the functioning of the fraternity until all sanctions are completed,” the statement read.

Theta Xi will be allowed to re-apply for recognition as a full student organization once it completes the sanctions. The fraternity was suspended to “firmly establish that actions such as those of Theta Xi are simply not tolerated within the University community.”

The University noted that the fraternity has made several positive strides since the incident began, including engaging brothers in educational work immediately following the incident, participating in conversations with University officials and issuing a public apology. All of this occurred before the GARP panel convened.

At the disciplinary hearing in November, Quang, the president of Theta Xi, said he and the rest of the fraternity are open to improving the dialogue on race and gender issues between members and expressed his apology to those who were offended by the party.

“I’m glad to open the conversation,” Quang said at the time. “And I believe not only for the perpetrators of the harm but just for everyone, there’s a lot to be learned.”

Theta Xi’s National Headquarters is closed for the holidays and could not be reached for comment.


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