International group denounces frat members

By DOUG MYERS Managing Editor

Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity’s International Headquarters has “denounced” its members at Tarleton State University who chose to “celebrate” Martin Luther King Day with a “MLK Party” that offended many blacks.

In a news release Friday, the Indianapolis-headquartered fraternity said it was “appalled to learn of the recent actions a few of its members” took at TSU in regard to the federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

“Martin Luther King Jr. was a national hero, icon, and leader who exhibited many of the honorable characteristics and values that Lambda Chi Alpha looks for in its members,” the release stated. “The deplorable actions made by a few members from its Tarleton State (Phi-Rho Zeta) chapter in regards to King and his holiday are both embarrassing and regretful, for their actions are not consistent with Lambda Chi Alpha’s teachings, values, and beliefs.”

The party, complete with buckets of fried chicken and 40-oz bottles of malt liquor wrapped in brown paper sacks, featured TSU students donning afros, carrying fake guns and dressed in gangster attire. One student even came dressed as “Aunt Jemima.”

“While only a few members of the chapter were involved, Lambda Chi Alpha and the Phi-Rho Zeta chapter apologize for this highly insensitive and offensive behavior,” the fraternity’s international organization said. The TSU chapter’s “undergraduate leadership is being given the opportunity to manage these unacceptable actions and to take the appropriate steps to ensure that future incidents of this nature do not occur.”

Meanwhile, TSU Student Body President Casey Hogan said the Student Government Association has “taken a strong stand against this type of behavior.”

Last week, the Tarleton SGA passed a resolution by a vote of 38-1 that took a “definitive stand against the actions that were carried out on Martin Luther King Day by a few members of the Tarleton family,” Hogan said.

At the next meeting of the TSU SGA Senate, the resolution will be voted on and signed off on by him, Hogan said.

“The Student Government Association and its leadership find the action of the students involved in this incident unacceptable,” Hogan said. “This incident does not reflect what Tarleton and our student body is all about. The actions of 15 to 20 students out of over 9,000 at Tarleton do not reflect on the student body as a whole. On behalf of the Student Government Association and the students of Tarleton State University, I would like to apologize for this in-sensitive and un-acceptable behavior.”

In the meantime, Jason Pearce, of Lambda Chi Alpha’s International Headquarters, said that while he could not “speak specifically to this event on the Tarleton State campus, I can help you and your staff better understand our internal disciplinary procedures.”

“In short,” Pearce said, “there are sanctions that can be made to a chapter as well as sanctions that can be made to a member,” including:

Chapter Discipline:

In general, sanctions can be imposed on a chapter from headquarters (the

professional staff), the internal board of directors (an elected board

composed of alumni and undergraduate members), or by the General

Fraternity at large at an international conference. Probations are often

handed down by staff while charterings and closings are decided by the

board. Chapter discipline usually occurs when the majority of a

chapter’s members or its officers do something that is either illegal or

is in violation of Lambda Chi Alpha policies at a Lambda Chi Alpha

event.

Member Discipline:

In almost all cases, sanctions placed on an individual member

(undergraduate or alumnus) are made by the local chapter’s Executive

Committee, with an appeal process that could go before the entire

chapter. Members of the Executive Committee would place charges upon a

member, review his wrongdoings, and then levy disciplinary action.

Punishment could range from requiring a simple apology all the way to

expulsion (revoking his membership from Lambda Chi Alpha). Member

discipline usually occurs when one or more individual members do

something that is either illegal or is in violation of Lambda Chi Alpha

policies at a Lambda Chi Alpha event.

Meanwhile, the organization said, “thankfully, many of Lambda Chi Alpha’s members do grow up to become positive contributors to society.”

“Its members have become State and U.S. Supreme Court justices, Fortune 500 CEOs, congressmen, senators, Nobel Prize winners, astronauts, military generals, and even President of the United States,”

Lambda Chi Alpha has initiated more than 250,000 members and expanded to more than 300 campuses since its founding in 1909.

DOUG MYERS is Managing Editor of the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at doug.myers@empiretribune.com or (254) 965-3124, ext. 229.