The national office of Kappa Sigma fraternity and the University are cooperating in an on-going investigation of the events surrounding last week’s unfortunate display of racial insensitivity by members of the fraternity’s local chapter.
“Effective immediately, the UT chapter of Kappa Sigma has been suspended by its national office. With that action, the local chapter no longer has standing as a registered student organization and is suspended from participating in university activities, such as Homecoming.
“Even if the national fraternity lifts the suspension of the Lambda chapter, the University will not automatically reinstate it. We will require the leaders and members of Kappa Sigma to demonstrate a commitment to uphold our expectations for civility, ethnic diversity and racial harmony. We expect the Lambda chapter and all other student organizations to uphold these standards.
“Last week’s appearance of Kappa Sigma members in blackface was insensitive and offensive to those who work tirelessly to improve the climate of understanding and diversity on campus. This incident is particularly distressing to the members of the University administration because all fraternities and sororities participated in a workshop a year ago to address a similar situation at another institution.
-We will not, however, let the actions of a few diminish the progress that has been made and plans we have for the future.
“We made commitments earlier this year to increase funding for the African and African-American Studies program. This will enable us to hire new faculty and offer additional courses. More than a year ago, the University began making plans to launch Africa Semester in January 2003. The semester-long program will celebrate Africa-s cultural, entertainment and educational contributions to non-African cultures around the world. A student-peer training program on race and diversity will be initiated this spring, and a special session on race and diversity will be added to the summer orientation program for new students.
“There is much to be done, but President John Shumaker and I, in concert with the University community, are committed to a climate of civility and multicultural understanding. We seek the involvement of the campus community and public at large in this endeavor.”