College fraternity suspended after hanging 'derogatory and demeaning' banners about female students

Reports said a number of potential students had put off joining the college

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The Independent US

A college fraternity has been suspended after its members were accused of hanging out “derogatory and demeaning” banners as new students arrived on campus.

The national office of the Sigma Nu fraternity suspended all activities at its Old Dominion University chapter on Monday as it opened an investigation into three sexually suggestive banners that were hung from the porch of the group’s off-campus house in Norfolk, Virginia.

“The fraternity condemns the derogatory and demeaning language used on the banners,” the fraternity’s executive director Brad Beacham said in a statement.

The fraternity, which dates from 1869, added: “Such language has no place in our fraternity or within any caring community, such as that of ODU.”

The Associated Press said Mr Beacham vowed that any fraternity members deemed responsible for what he called the “reprehensible display” would be held accountable.

The signs were hung over the weekend as newly admitted students were arriving at the campus.

They read “Rowdy and fun hope your baby girl is ready for a good time…”, “Freshman daughter drop off”, with an arrow pointing to the house’s front door; and “Go ahead and drop off mom too…”.

Images of the signs were captured in a picture that was briefly posted to Facebook. The Facebook post has since been deleted.

The Virginian-Pilot newspaper said a man who answered the door on Monday at the house where several members of the Sigma Nu Eta Chi chapter lived admitted that the signs had been made there, but said they had been hung at a different house.

University President John Broderick said in a post on social media that he was outraged over the banners and vowed the incident would be reviewed “immediately”.

“I said at my State of the University address that there is zero tolerance on this campus for sexual assault and sexual harassment,” Mr Broderick wrote.

“Any student found to have violated the code of conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.”

Mr Broderick said at least one young student he talked to “thought seriously about going back home” after seeing the offensive message.

“Not only do these actions taken by a few individuals undermine the countless efforts at Old Dominion University to prevent sexual assault, they are also unwelcoming, offensive, and unacceptable.”

Rachael Holiday, an ODU sophomore, told the Virginian-Pilot that she saw the banners on Friday while helping new students move in. She said most of the parents she spoke to wanted the banners taken down and told her they were thinking of pulling their daughters out of the school.

The issue of sexual assaults on campus has become an issue of increasing importance in recent years, following several high-profile incidents.

A number of states, including New York and California, have adopted a “yes means yes” policy of affirmative consent for sexual interactions.