UW-Madison Suspends Fraternity After Racial Slur Allegation

University of Wisconsin-Madison officials said they are investigating a report of a racial incident involving two African-American female students and members of a campus fraternity.

UW-Madison Dean of Students Lori Berquam and Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate Damon Williams called the allegations against members of Delta Upsilon “deeply troubling.”

University officials added that the alleged incident involved fewer than five members of the fraternity.

The entire fraternity faces emergency suspension as the university investigates the allegations.

Two female students reported walking on the fraternity’s property at the shore of Lake Mendota in the early-morning hours of March 16 and said that, unprovoked, they became the subject of racial slurs and class-oriented taunts from students who were holding a party on the fraternity house porch.

The women reported that they proceeded to leave, but before they could do so, a glass bottle was thrown at them. No one was injured, but the university is investigating.

“We’re very concerned for the victims and want our community to know that it is totally unacceptable to act in this manner toward others,” Berquam and Williams said in a joint statement.

Members of the fraternity didn’t want to talk Wednesday about the allegations.

“We really don’t want to talk about it. It doesn’t involve me,” said a fraternity member, whom others identified as the local chapter’s president.

The Delta Upsilon International Fraternity issued a statement Thursday about the investigation.

“Delta Upsilon International Fraternity is investigating the alleged incident at the University of Wisconsin and working closely with university officials and chapter leaders. The alleged incident is incongruent with the mission and values of Delta Upsilon Fraternity. Cultural insensitivity is not tolerated by the Fraternity and members will be held accountable. Our mission is to build better men through our four founding principles of the Promotion of Friendship, Development of Character, Diffusion of Liberal Culture, and Advancement of Justice,” said Delta Upsilon Fraternity Executive Director Justin Kirk in a statement.

“I think they had a couple parties there around the time, but I just don’t know what they did. But, if they really did that, it’s really bad,” said Tony Tong, a student who lives nearby.

UW-Madison officials didn’t say what racial slur was alleged to have been used, but for Meta Tshiteya, an African-American student, just hearing about the allegations makes her feel unsafe.

“A lot of people are ignorant. A lot of people are going to use it, but you don’t have to go there,” she said.

As far as any punishment, she said education is key.

“I totally believe that with education, ignorance will be gone,” said Tshiteya.

UW-Madison officials said the last time this fraternity was investigated was in September 2011. That alcohol-related incident involved an underage student.

In the most recent case, punishment for members of the fraternity could range from a written reprimand to expulsion.