Slur on KD Halloween decoration prompts conversation

A lawn decoration featuring homophobic language posted at the Kappa Delta sorority house Tuesday has prompted a national apology and conversation between the greek and LGBTQ communities on The University of Alabama campus.

On Tuesday, a picture of a tombstone decoration reading “Freshman died Being dodgeball dikes [sic]” circulated social media. The sign appeared to be posted at the start of KD’s front sidewalk at the chapter house on campus.

Noah Cannon, president of Spectrum, the LGBTQ organization at the University, said Wednesday that while the language is inexcusable, he is appreciative of the cooperation with KD following the publication of the photo.

“The use of hate speech by select members of Kappa Delta sorority this weekend is horrifying,” Cannon said. “Kappa Delta leadership brought this incident to our attention, and Spectrum leadership was graciously welcomed to speak at Wednesday night’s chapter meeting at the Kappa Delta house.”

Pamela Nix Elms, the executive director of the Kappa Delta sorority, released a statement Wednesday afternoon on behalf of the national organization and the local chapter. Elms said the national chapter is working with campus representatives to foster cultural sensitivity among chapter members.

“I want to express my sincere apology for the offensive sign that appeared on the lawn of the KD chapter house at The University of Alabama this week,” Elms wrote. “It was not acceptable and does not align with our values. We want you to know that we are addressing the situation with the chapter and the members involved.”

Capstone Alliance, the University’s LGBTQ faculty, staff, and graduate student organization, released a statement Tuesday, stating that hate speech is not tolerated under any university policy.

“That the event occurred in residential space does not remove the University from accountability; it was perpetrated by and directed at University community members who reside on University property,” Capstone’s statement read. “That the event is connected to greek organization does not warrant a hands-off response from the University; all student groups are held to the same Code of Conduct and non-discrimination policies.”

Meredith Bagley, an associate professor in the communications department, said she found the “callous” language hard to swallow Tuesday.

“We’re told so often that our greek organizations on campus are training future leaders and upstanding community members; it is distressing to see such a bald reversal of this assertion in the KD yard,” Bagley said.

Dean of Students Tim Hebson said Wednesday afternoon the response to the event is encouraging as students work together.

“Student Affairs administrators have reached out to members of Spectrum and the greek community, to express our concerns about the incident,” Hebson said. “And to help facilitate an ongoing dialog and educational effort to address this and other issues related to civility and to encourage a sense of community.”

While Cannon said incidents such as this show there is work to be done in making the University an inclusive place for the LGBTQ community, he is heartened by the cooperation between the parties.

“This is a landmark moment of communication between different student groups at UA,” Cannon said. “I look forward to sustaining this dialogue and working with Kappa Delta and other greek organizations in the future.”

  • disqus_uNQhiogyxZ

    I hope that the other signs which were equally offensive were discussed as well. Racial slurs and demeaning young women for being overweight are also not acceptable.

    • pj wells

      What other signs? This is the first I’ve heard of this. anyone have information or photos of other signs? Simply deplorable. Stay classy, Alabama soros!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/2ZHNMJDNAJP4Q6YRV54JDTSXQ4 toasale

    Things are no different comparatively from other times. I went through pledgeship in ’61, my daughter in ’88 and I am unequivocably stating do NOT cook in the kitchen, if you cannot stand the heat. Anyone make you come to the U of A or make someone join anything? Do something else, but do not start a rift in my ‘backyard’.

    • casual observer

      Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
      - Martin Luther King, Jr.

      An age is called Dark, not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it.
      - James Michener

      A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.
      - Thomas Paine

    • http://twitter.com/morganemily morgan whitaker

      Unbelievable.

      We need to move the university forward – not get stuck in the past and incidents like this only stop progress.

      I pray we have made positive social changes since 1961. No one should feel victimized at THEIR university – NOT your backyard.

    • http://twitter.com/Alak_Sandu Alex Andros

      Hey pal, I’m from this state too, and no one has the right to use slurs to make people like me feel like second-class citizens. The rift is already there, and we’re trying to bridge it, but how can we do then when ignorant people keep trying to pull it apart. You should be ashamed of your Alma mater and your sisterhood if they allow something like to this to go without criticism.

      But fortunately, you don’t. Compassionate, open-minded people in the UA administration and in the KD Sorority have done an incredible job responding to this mess and working with the LGBTQ community to foster understanding. People are tired of racism and homophobia at this university, and I’m thankful that things *are* different than the racist time period that you pledged and the homophobic era that your daughter pledged.

    • http://www.facebook.com/brad.erthal Brad Erthal

      Shorter toasale: “Tolerate our bigotry!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/roger.kirk.754 Roger Kirk

    I see that hateful speech, actions and ignorance is still on display at UA. When i was a student, it was greeks dressing in blackface for swaps and homophobic slurs made by organizations on Homecoming floats. Seems like these kids would learn.