Officials respond to racial incident at frat

By Lindsey Salvatelli

DeKALB | Chief Diversity Officer Vernese Edghill-Walden released a statement following the social media spark surrounding a video in which a man used racial slurs outside the Tau Kappa Epsilon house.

The video, which was originally posted on Snapchat, was shared by a student Sunday on Twitter with the caption, “So this what happens at TKE?” The video has since been retweeted 155 times.

Senior kinesiology major Tyler Hayes, who shared the recording of the Snapchat on Twitter, said she shared the video because she wanted to bring awareness to the incident.

Hayes said a former student also shared the video on Facebook before Hayes shared it on Twitter. The former student was contacted by members of TKE who asked him to remove the video because it reflected poorly on their fraternity.

The biggest concern, Hayes said, was that there were TKE members standing around the man as he said the racial slur, but the members did not intervene.

“I felt like it was important to share because it hurt me as a student,” Hayes said.

Hayes said when she first saw the video, she asked the person who posted the video to remove it because Hayes felt the video was offensive.

Samantha Listy, who posted the video on Snapchat with the caption, “Omg dad stop,” couldn’t be located on the student directory and has since deleted her Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Student Conduct is investigating the incident, according to the statement released by Edghill-Walden.

The man in the video is not an alumnus or student, according to the statement.

“NIU leadership knows that this disturbing video has caused harm in our community and directly goes against our core values of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Edghill-Walden said in the statement.

The chapter released a statement on Twitter responding to the incident in which they renounce the video.

“Though the actions of this non-member are completely unacceptable, we hope his poor choice opens a dialogue on the NIU campus on how we can all contribute to build a better world,” according to the April 10 Twitter statement.

Hayes said she appreciated TKE releasing a statement, but she felt as though members should remain accountable for their inaction.

TKE leadership has not responded to a request for comment.

Edghill-Walden outlined the ways in which administrators plan to handle the incident, including diversity training for TKE members to be completed by May 1, diversity training for all Student Association-recognized student organizations to be completed by Oct. 1 and a meeting between black student leaders and TKE leaders to be held by April 17.

Black Studies Director Gena Flynn said the Black Student Union will be one of the organizations that will meet with TKE leadership for the dialogue.

“The video was definitely concerning and raised concern for black students, as well as faculty and staff,” Flynn said.

Edghill-Walden said the meeting between black student leadership and TKE leadership is a continued effort of bringing people together for open and honest dialogues.

“As a community, we should be able to talk with one another about things that are difficult and can sometimes be harmful to the community and figure out ways and solutions to work together to make things better,” Edghill-Walden said.

Black Lives Matter, a community group, responded to the video by discussing it during their Monday night meeting held at the Center for Black Studies but removed nonmembers and media who attended the meeting stating it was a closed meeting.

BSU, which had members at the event, declined to comment on the meeting or their thoughts on the video.

Before the incident, the Diversity Office’s three-year plan included diversity training for student organizations and students in general, and Edghill-Walden said this incident “solidified” the importance of the training.

Edghill-Walden said the fraternity and sorority offices contacted TKE’s national office, which expressed concern but did not mention if it planned any punitive action.

TKE’s national office said the only statement they had to offer regarding the issue is the statement made by @NIUTekes on Twitter.

“When things like this happen, it’s important for us as a community to acknowledge it and figure out ways to improve,” Edghill-Walden said.

At this time, Edghill-Walden said the Student Conduct investigation remains ongoing.