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.”