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Rob Parker on RGIII’s blackness
Dec-13-2012 1037 0


Robert Griffin III has been asked about his race repeatedly this season. He has not, to my knowledge, ever brought the subject up himself. Every time he’s been asked about it, he has managed to appear thoughtful and considerate without possibly offending anyone.

I’m not sure he’s ever handled the race question better than on last week’s Comcast SportsNet special, when Chick Hernandez talked about being a black quarterback in D.C.

“Whenever you can relate to the population of the team that you play for, I think it makes it that much more special,” Griffin said. “I don’t play too much into the color game, because I don’t want to be the best African American quarterback, I want to be the best quarterback.

“But to the fans, and to the fans who think that way and look at me as an African American, it’s important that I succeed, not only for this team, but for them,” he continued. “Because it gives them that motivation, that hey, you know, an African American went out and played quarterback for my Washington Redskins. So I appreciate that; I don’t ever downplay anything like that. Whoever I can go out every week and motivate to do better and to try to go after their dreams, I’m up for that.”

Again, I don’t know how he could possibly have handled that issue — which he did not raise himself — any better.

But people keep asking. The rookie was asked about race yet again on Wednesday, this time by an ESPN reporter. He delivered a similar answer. It was an answer that showed he’s actually thought about the issue, but it was steadfastly non-controversial.

“I am [aware] of how race is relevant to [some fans]. I don’t ignore it,” Griffin said Wednesday. “I try not to be defined by it, but I understand different perspectives and how people view different things. So I understand they’re excited their quarterback is an African American. I play with a lot of pride, a lot of character, a lot of heart. So I understand that, and I appreciate them for being fans.”

Well. This led to a Thursday discussion on First Take, ESPN’s abysmal debate program. Panelist Rob Parker was asked, ‘What does this say about RGIII?”

“This is an interesting topic,” Parker said. “For me, personally, just me, this throws up a red flag, what I keep hearing. And I don’t know who’s asking the questions, but we’ve heard a couple of times now of a black guy kind of distancing himself away from black people.

“I understand the whole story of I just want to be the best,” Parker continued. “Nobody’s out on the field saying to themselves, I want to be the best black quarterback. You’re just playing football, right? You want to be the best, you want to throw the most touchdowns and have the most yards and win the most games. Nobody is [thinking] that.

“But time and time we keep hearing this, so it just makes me wonder deeper about him,” Parker went on. “And I’ve talked to some people down in Washington D.C., friends of mine, who are around and at some of the press conferences, people I’ve known for a long time. But my question, which is just a straight honest question. Is he a brother, or is he a cornball brother?”

What does that mean, Parker was asked.

“Well, [that] he’s black, he kind of does his thing, but he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us,” Parker explained. “He’s kind of black, but he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with, because he’s off to do something else.”

Why is that your question, Parker was asked.

“Well, because I want to find out about him,” Parker said. “I don’t know, because I keep hearing these things. We all know he has a white fiancée. There was all this talk about he’s a Republican, which, there’s no information [about that] at all. I’m just trying to dig deeper as to why he has an issue. Because we did find out with Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods was like I’ve got black skin but don’t call me black. So people got to wondering about Tiger Woods early on.”

Then Skip Bayless asked Parker about RGIII’s braids.

“Now that’s different,” Parker said. “To me, that’s very urban and makes you feel like…wearing braids, you’re a brother. You’re a brother if you’ve got braids on.”

Then Stephen A. Smith was asked for his take. He exhaled deeply.

“Well first of all let me say this: I’m uncomfortable with where we just went,” Smith said. “RGIII, the ethnicity, the color of his fiancée is none of our business. It’s irrelevant. He can live his life any way he chooses. The braids that he has in his hair, that’s his business, that’s his life. I don’t judge someone’s blackness based on those kind of things. I just don’t do that. I’m not that kind of guy.

“What I would say to you is that the comments he made are fairly predictable,” Smith went on. “I think it’s something that he may feel, but it’s also a concerted effort to appease the masses to some degree, which I’m finding relatively irritating, because I don’t believe that the black athlete has any responsibility whatsoever to have to do such things.

“Let me say this clearly. I don’t know of anybody who goes into something trying to be the best black anything. We understand that. That’s a given,” Smith said. “But I do think it’s important to acknowledge a level of pride and a feeling of a level of accomplishment for being somebody who happens to be of African American descent, who competes and achieves and accomplishes things on the highest level while also bringing attention – to some degree anyhow – to the pride that they feel being black. Because they’re allowing themselves to be a reminder to those who preceded them, who worked so hard, accomplished and achieved so much, but were denied the accolades that that individual is receiving.”

Later, Parker was given an opportunity to clarify whether he was judging Griffin’s blackness.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” he said. “We could sit here and be honest, or we can be dishonest. And you can’t tell me that people in the barbershops or people that talk, they look at who your spouse is. They do. And they look at how you present yourself. People will say all the time, you’re not gonna get a job in corporate America wearing those braids. It happens all the time. Let’s not act like it doesn’t, because it does.”

The only conclusion I’m willing to make about all of this is that the show would have been much more thoughtful had Griffin been on the panel. Or had he replaced the panel.


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AP Apr-24-2014 52 0
The day Jonathan Fleming was cleared of the murder that put him behind bars for almost 25 years, he strode out of a courthouse to congratulations from passers-by, a steak dinner with his family and the start of a new life.

The weeks since have been a mix of emotional highs and practical frustrations. He spent an evening as a VIP guest at a boxing match and slept that night on a cousin's couch. He marveled at strangers donating thousands of dollars to help him, but doesn't yet have a place of his own.

He had a first-ever meeting with a son he learned was his while in prison, even as he prepares to visit another son serving a prison term of his own.

"Coming back, you know, it's been hard. ... It's a lot to have to catch up on," Fleming says. But, he says, "I'm looking forward to it. Because I'm just so happy to be out here."

Fleming was cleared April 8 after prosecutors said they now believe what he had been saying all along: that he was on a family vacation in Disney World when a friend was shot dead in Brooklyn in 1989.

Defense investigators located witnesses who said Fleming wasn't the gunman. And prosecutors found previously undisclosed documents in their own files that supported Fleming's alibi, including a hotel phone bill he paid in Orlando, Fla., about five hours before the shooting.

During his years in prison, Fleming wrote letters to prosecutors, meditated, took vocational courses, and logged disciplinary penalties for drug possession, creating disturbances and other infractions. He says he gave up being angry about his conviction but never lost hope he'd be freed.

When the word finally came, "the feeling — you have no idea," he says. "I just sat down on my bed, and I cried."

After dropping into 2014 from 1989, Fleming spent a recent day opening the first bank account he's had in his 51 years, learned to use his new iPhone, and got an email address set up by one of his lawyers.

It has a "14" in it, for the year he was freed.

"Should have said '24' — the years that I did," he said, and laughed.

For all he had to celebrate, Fleming also was facing a struggle to get on his feet. He left prison with less than $100 and no permanent home. He's getting divorced from his second wife, and his ailing, 71-year-old mother in Brooklyn can't take him in because she is already accommodating other relatives.

Lawyers Taylor Koss and Anthony Mayol plan to file false-conviction suits that could eventually net substantial sums, and a stranger launched an online campaign that has raised more than $32,000 for Fleming so far. To get by in the meantime, Fleming has signed up for food stamps and taken out a loan against a potential lawsuit settlement.

Fleming is among more than 1,350 inmates exonerated nationwide in the last 25 years. Studies have found those exonerated often confront challenges finding jobs and housing, rebuilding family relationships and grappling with the psychological legacies of their experiences.

One legacy that haunts Fleming is regret over his 33-year-old son in prison, the one he left behind when he was arrested. The Disney World trip had been that son's ninth birthday present.

"Sometimes I feel like I failed him because I really feel if I was out there, I don't think he'd be in prison now," says Fleming, who is planning a visit.

He's also been reconnecting with his other three sons, including one born while he was in prison and a 32-year-old son he didn't know he had until after he was behind bars. Fleming visited him and his family in Pennsylvania.

"They had a cookout," he says. "Made me really feel at home."

Fleming doesn't want to talk about his life before his arrest. He'd had other brushes with the law; prison system records show he had served about a year in an auto-theft case.

What he will say is: "I'm not going to pick up where I left off. It's a new day."

"A New Day" is his working title for a book he started writing in prison and hopes to publish someday. He also wants to go to college, maybe law school, to help other inmates challenge convictions and to advise young people about staying out of trouble.

"I'm excited to move forward," Fleming says. "Because I know God has a plan for me."

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Apr-23-2014 74 0
Police at the University of Massachusetts Boston have charged a student in connection with two bomb threats called into the school in the past week.

Dean Beckford, a 29-year-old senior at the school, was arrested Tuesday afternoon and has been charged with two counts of making a bomb threat, according to UMass Boston Police Chief Donald Baynard.

The threats occurred on Thursday, April 17, and Tuesday, April 22, which raised already high tensions surrounding the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing and the latest running of the race on Monday.

In both incidents, a call was received at about 12:45 p.m. at a dean's office in Wheatley Hall, the target of the threats, claiming an imminent danger of an explosion in the building, police said.

Both times, police immediately evacuated the targeted building and performed a search with bomb squads. No devices were ever found.

Investigators reportedly tracked calls from pay phones outside two train stations and then used surveillance video to identify the suspect — who was arrested as he arrived on campus, according to NBC’s Boston affiliate WHDH.

“I hope this will be a clear and resounding message that we take these types of actions very seriously and will aggressively investigate and pursue criminal charges when unfounded threats are made to the safety of the campus,” Baynard said in a statement.

A judge issued $20,000 cash bail for Beckford and ordered that he wear a GPS device, WHDH reported.

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Apr-23-2014 117 0
A Shreveport woman said a nail tech from Style Nails in Shreveport crossed the line during a pedicure, and that she has cell phone video to prove it.

The incident took place last Friday at the nail shop located on Youree Drive. According to Lawanda Warren, a male nail tech fondled and groped her leg while giving her a pedicure.

"The massage kind of got weird because he went up my legs, and he kept going up, and up, and then he was up under the towel and then he was just groping my thighs," Warren said.

That's when she started recording a video of the pedicure using her cell phone.

We talked to nail tech Huey Tran at Style Nails and he said he did not do anything wrong.

"I pull the towel for her, and be done," Tran said.

The video shows him just massaging Warren's legs, but not in a sexual manner, he said.

A longtime customer at the nail salon said nothing like that has ever happened to her at Style Nails.

"I always wear pants, but if a person came in with a towel or skirt then they would put a towel over their legs and that is as far as it has ever gone," said Karen Emerson, who has been a customer of Style Nails for nine years, and has never had an inappropriate incident.

The Shreveport Police Department confirmed that a police report was filed concerning the incident. The allegations are still under investigation.

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Apr-23-2014 104 0
Danville, VA - What started out as a seemingly innocent ad for a rental home, ended with offensive results for a Danville woman.

In September, Shawnda Watkins reached out to John Matthews III about renting a trailer from him, but she says he told her it was already taken.

Minutes later, the woman had a friend - who is white - ask about the same property and she says Matthews offered it to her readily.
"We thought that it was a terrible set of circumstances that had occurred, " said attorney Steven Gould.

Watkins had been trying to rent one of John Matthews' trailers in Caswell County. Gould says when she called him out on lying to her about the property, Matthews said he could rent to whomever he wanted, but that's not exactly true.

"The fair housing act says that if you rent a certain number of units or homes to the public then you are not able to discriminate based on the categories of race and sex and religion, "

When Housing Opportunities Made Equal learned about the situation they decided to set up a blind test.

They used trained decoys to call Matthews with similar backgrounds - but one was black and one was white. What they found shocked them.

"Often it's very hard to detect, but in this case it was very clear, " said HOME's VA President and CEO Heather Crislip.

According to court records, Matthews discouraged the black potential applicant, even using the n-word to describe some previous tenants.

HOME filed a lawsuit against Matthews and won $25,000 in damages. Watkins is still in pending litigation.

Matthews could not be reached for comment, but Gould and HOME leaders say they are glad to see justice served.

"It gives us the opportunity to talk about fair housing but it is disappointing that this kind of racial discrimination still goes on, " said Crislip.

"We need to do everything we can to send a message to folks that that's just not going to be permitted to stand in our community, " Gould said.

HOME plans to use the $25,000 they were awarded to continue educating the community on fair housing rights and practices.

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Liat Kornowski Apr-23-2014 104 0
It's official: Lupita Nyong'o is People magazine's Most Beautiful Person for 2014, besting other gorgeous ladies like Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts and Julianna Margulies.

The annual Most Beautiful cover was unveiled on the Today show Wednesday, April 23:

This should come as no surprise to the magazine's readers (and to the world, really), and it's not only because Nyong'o is breathtakingly beautiful. The breakout star of "12 Years a Slave," this year's Best Picture, won an Oscar herself for Best Supporting Actress. She soon after inked a contract with Lancome Paris and constantly lands on "best dressed" lists with every red carpet appearance.

But it's the Kenyan Mexican actress' reaction to the new honor that captures her the most. "It was exciting and just a major, major compliment," Nyong'o told People after learning she's gracing this year's cover. "I was happy for all the girls who would see me on [it] and feel a little more seen."

The humble yet powerful sentiment seems to be a constant when it comes to the 31-year-old, whose speeches have become as much an inspiration as they are a gracious thanks. At the Academy Awards, she wrapped her speech up with the memorable, "I look down at this golden statue, and may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you're from, your dreams are valid."

Upon winning the Best Breakthrough Performance Award at the Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon in February, Nyong'o moved the audience by saying:

"I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty. Black beauty. Dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: 'Dear Lupita,' it reads, 'I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia's Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.'"

"I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin. I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin," Nyong'o added, wrapping her speech up with: "I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside. There is no shade in that beauty."

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Nina Golgowski Apr-23-2014 93 0
An infant baby boy was discovered in a bloody South Carolina trash can after his mother allegedly threw him away after giving birth, according to police.

The newborn, wrapped in a plastic grocery bag and a pink blanket, was dug up from the bin alive by Greenville officers around 4:30 p.m. Monday.

WYFF reports that it was a nearby homeowner who called 911 after spotting the curious amount of blood.

"We found what looked to be blood outside of a trash can, and a little bit on the ground," Officer Jonathan Bragg told WYFF of their response. "At that point we started digging around and found the newborn inside the trash can."

The child's mother, identified as Sharon Ferguson, was arrested nearby and charged with attempted murder and unlawful neglect of a child, according to police.

She allegedly admitted to giving birth to the boy on Monday and then discarding him in the bin.

A family spokesman told WFYY that Ferguson is homeless and suffers a "diagnosed mental illness."

The infant was described by police as in stable condition after EMS rendered aid at the scene.


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AP Apr-22-2014 107 0
The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmation action in admissions to the state’s public universities, in a fractured decision that revealed deep divisions among the justices over what role the government should play in protecting racial and ethnic minorities.

The 6-to-2 ruling effectively endorsed similar measures in seven other states and may encourage additional measures banning the use of race in admissions. States that forbid affirmative action in admissions decisions, like Texas, Florida and California, as well as Michigan, have seen a significant drop in the enrollment of black and Hispanic students in their most selective colleges and universities.

In five opinions spanning more than 100 pages, the justices set out starkly conflicting views. The justices in the majority, with varying degrees of vehemence, said that policies affecting minorities that do not involve intentional discrimination should ordinarily be decided at the ballot box rather than in the courtroom.

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in the longest and most significant dissent of her career, said the Constitution required special vigilance in light of the history of slavery, Jim Crow and “recent examples of discriminatory changes to state voting laws.”

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s controlling opinion for three justices took pains to say that the decision was a modest one.

“This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved,” he wrote, in an opinion joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. “It is about who may resolve it. There is no authority in the Constitution of the United States or in this court’s precedents for the judiciary to set aside Michigan laws that commit this policy determination to the voters.”

His announcement of the decision from the bench was businesslike. Then Justice Sotomayor summarized her dissent, an unusual move signaling deep displeasure. She said the initiative put minorities to a burden not faced by other college applicants and so violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

“The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat,” she wrote. “But neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the dissent.

Justice Sotomayor seemed to mock one of Chief Justice Roberts’s most memorable lines. In a 2007 decision that limited the use of race in public school systems, he wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Justice Sotomayor recast the line. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” she wrote, “is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”

Chief Justice Roberts responded in a brief concurrence, saying that affirmative action, and the stigma that he said could accompany it, may do more harm than good. “People can disagree in good faith on this issue,” he added, “but it similarly does more harm than good to question the openness and candor of those on either side of the debate.”

In earlier cases, including one from June concerning the University of Texas, the court has said that race-conscious admissions policies can be constitutionally permissible in states that wish to use them. The new decision concerned the question of whether and how voters may prohibit affirmative action programs.

The Michigan initiative, known as Proposal 2, was a response to Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 Supreme Court decision that upheld the use of race as one factor among many in law school admissions to ensure educational diversity.

Proposal 2, approved in 2006 by 58 percent of Michigan’s voters, amended the state Constitution to prohibit discrimination or preferential treatment in public education, government contracting and public employment. Groups favoring affirmative action sued to block the part of the law concerning higher education.

In 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, ruled by a vote of 8 to 7 that the initiative violated the federal Constitution’s equal protection clause. The appeals court majority said the problem with the law was that it restructured the state’s political process by making it harder for disfavored minorities to press for change.

In both 1969 and 1982 the Supreme Court struck down measures disfavoring minorities on the grounds that they unfairly restructured the political process. Those precedents figured prominently in the majority opinion from the appeals court.

“A student seeking to have her family’s alumni connections considered in her application to one of Michigan’s esteemed public universities could do one of four things to have the school adopt a legacy-conscious admissions policy: she could lobby the admissions committee, she could petition the leadership of the university, she could seek to influence the school’s governing board, or, as a measure of last resort, she could initiate a statewide campaign to alter the state’s Constitution,” Judge R. Guy Cole Jr. wrote for the majority.

“The same cannot be said,” Judge Cole added, “for a black student seeking the adoption of a constitutionally permissible race-conscious admissions policy. That student could do only one thing to effect change: she could attempt to amend the Michigan Constitution — a lengthy, expensive and arduous process — to repeal the consequences of Proposal 2.”

A dissenting member of the appeals court, Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, wrote that the majority had it backward. “A state does not deny equal treatment by mandating it,” he said. The majority opinion, he added, “transforms a potential virtue of affirmative action into a vice.”

“If there is one feature of affirmative action programs that favors their constitutionality,” he said, “it is that they grow out of the democratic process.”

The appeals court’s decision divided along partisan lines. The eight judges in the majority were all nominated by Democratic presidents, and the seven judges in dissent were all nominated by Republican presidents. (Judge Helene N. White, who was in the majority, was initially nominated by President Bill Clinton and was later renominated by President George W. Bush as part of a compromise involving several nominations.)

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, upheld California’s ban on racial preferences in 1997, saying it “would be paradoxical” to rule otherwise. The court reaffirmed that ruling in 2010.

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AP Apr-22-2014 160 0
Four men accused of punching and kicking a motorist who accidentally struck a 10-year-old Detroit boy were ordered Monday to stand trial on attempted murder charges, after a judge reviewed their statements to police and witnesses testified about the chaotic mob attack.

As Steve Utash continued to recover in a hospital bed, Judge Thomas Jackson found probable cause to move the case to trial in Wayne County Circuit Court.

Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey introduced statements to police from Latrez Cummings, 19, James Davis, 24, and Wonzey Saffold, 30, all acknowledging a role in the April 2 attack. They were ordered to trial, along with Bruce Wimbush Jr., 17, who waived the hearing.

“I pray for the man every day. I hope him and the boy are going to be OK,” Cummings told police, according to Lindsey.

Witnesses to the attack described a chaotic scene.

Steve Utash, 54, was critically injured by an angry mob who attacked him on a Detroit street after the man stopped to check on a child he accidentally hit with his truck.

“They were hollerin’ and screamin’, ‘Oh, my God, get him, get him,”’ witness Deborah Hughes testified.

Hughes, a nurse, is credited with rushing to the boy’s side and also intervening to save Utash from further injuries. She said Cummings likely kicked the victim at least 10 times.

Another witness, Ashley Daniels, said Utash was attacked after he got out of his pickup to check on the boy. She said he was stumbling and his hat was knocked off after some early blows.

Daniels said Utash was dared to pick up his hat before he was hit again.

“He fell. He got up again,” she said. “It was like he was almost accepting it.”

Statements to police indicate that three of four men recognized the boy and had revenge on their mind.

“I saw the little boy on the ground ... and I lost it,” Saffold told investigators.

Utash, 54, of Macomb County’s Clinton Township, is a tree trimmer who was familiar with the east side Detroit neighborhood where a boy darted out in front of his pickup. He spent days in a coma after the beating.

Utash’s family sat in the front row of the courtroom, while relatives of the accused men sat directly behind them in three rows. There were deep sighs, sobbing and muffled utterances of “liar” during the testimony. Some spectators were ejected by sheriff’s deputies.

Jackson noted that the legal threshold to keep the case moving at this stage is low. Defense attorneys said Utash’s injuries were awful but an attempted murder charge was too severe.

“One or two may not be enough to kill anyone,” the judge said of punches and kicks, “but a combination may be enough to cause one’s death.”

Separately, a 16-year-old boy is charged in Juvenile Court with assault and ethnic intimidation in the case. He and the other defendants are black; Utash is white.

Outside court, Utash’s brother-in-law Max Mohr said Utash is struggling and disoriented in the hospital. He said Utash tried to walk with the help of nurses but lasted only a few steps.

“He’s not the Steve I know — not even close,” Mohr said.


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AP Apr-21-2014 143 0
A national fraternity group has closed its University of Mississippi chapter after three members were accused of tying a noose around the neck of a statue of the first black student to enroll in the Southern college that was all-white at the time.

The university announced Thursday that the national office of Sigma Phi Epsilon, based in Richmond, Va., had closed its Ole Miss chapter.

Besides the noose, someone draped a pre-2003 Georgia state flag with a Confederate battle emblem in its design on the face of the James Meredith statue in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 16. Meredith’s enrollment in 1962 set off a violent attack by anti-integration protesters on federal authorities, leaving two people dead and scores injured.

The names of the three students from Georgia haven’t been released. They were kicked out of the chapter, which itself had been suspended pending the review.

Ole Miss spokesman Tom Eppes said university disciplinary proceedings against the three students are ongoing. He also said the FBI is still investigating.

The Lafayette County district attorney has said state charges won’t be brought because no state laws were broken. Mississippi’s hate crime law requires an underlying crime for those additional charges. Because the statute itself wasn’t marred or broken, prosecutors say typical vandalism charges don’t apply.

After the noose was found, the university asked the national headquarters to review the 130-member chapter, which had been on campus since 1987.

“The closure is not a result of what happened with the Meredith statue, but the Meredith statue precipitated the intensive review of how they conduct business,” Blanton said.

Ole Miss and fraternity officials said they found a pattern of underage drinking and hazing which broke both university and Sigma Phi Epsilon rules. University officials said the national office had previously intervened in 2010 to fix similar problems.

“We are disappointed that a pattern of bad behavior and serious, inexcusable hazing occurred within the chapter,” Dean of Students Sparky Reardon said in a statement. “Periodic reports from and meetings with local alumni and national headquarters led us to believe that the chapter was improving.”

Sigma Phi Epsilon CEO Brian Warren said the group had “no choice” but to close the unit.

“Though it’s always painful to close a chapter, these students’ actions clearly illustrate a determination to perpetuate an experience based on risky and unconstructive behavior,” he said in a statement.

Blanton said students currently living in the Sigma Phi Epsilon house on campus would be allowed to stay and eat meals there through the end of the semester, but would not be allowed to have any social activities. After that, he said the university, which owns the land under the house, and the fraternity would discuss uses for the structure.

Sigma Phi officials said they would discuss a return to campus with the university. It’s not clear how long that might take. Blanton said that several years ago, the university did not reinstate the closed chapter of another fraternity until all the members at the time of the closure had graduated.

Administrators have fought against the university’s Old South image, banning Confederate battle flags from football games in 2003 and ditching its Colonel Reb mascot for a black bear in 2010. But those efforts have been undermined by unflattering incidents, such as an election night disturbance in November 2012 when some students used racial slurs and profanity to protest President Barack Obama‘s re-election, or an October 2013 performance of “The Laramie Project” where football players and other students used gay slurs to heckle the play about the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepherd, who was gay.

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