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Fraternity shuts Ole Miss branch after noose tying

Winter Talks About Ole Miss Noose Incident

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A national fraternity group has closed its University of Mississippi chapter after three members were accused of tying a noose around the neck of a statue of the first black student to enroll in the Southern college that was all-white at the time.

The university announced Thursday that the national office of Sigma Phi Epsilon, based in Richmond, Va., had closed its Ole Miss chapter.

Besides the noose, someone draped a pre-2003 Georgia state flag with a Confederate battle emblem in its design on the face of the James Meredith statue in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 16. Meredith's enrollment in 1962 set off a violent attack by anti-integration protesters on federal authorities, leaving two people dead and scores injured.

The names of the three students from Georgia haven't been released. They were kicked out of the chapter, which itself had been suspended pending the review.

Ole Miss spokesman Tom Eppes said university disciplinary proceedings against the three students are ongoing. He also said the FBI is still investigating.

The Lafayette County district attorney has said state charges won't be brought because no state laws were broken. Mississippi's hate crime law requires an underlying crime for those additional charges. Because the statute itself wasn't marred or broken, prosecutors say typical vandalism charges don't apply.

After the noose was found, the university asked the national headquarters to review the 130-member chapter, which had been on campus since 1987.

"The closure is not a result of what happened with the Meredith statue, but the Meredith statue precipitated the intensive review of how they conduct business," Blanton said.

Ole Miss and fraternity officials said they found a pattern of underage drinking and hazing which broke both university and Sigma Phi Epsilon rules. University officials said the national office had previously intervened in 2010 to fix similar problems.

"We are disappointed that a pattern of bad behavior and serious, inexcusable hazing occurred within the chapter," Dean of Students Sparky Reardon said in a statement. "Periodic reports from and meetings with local alumni and national headquarters led us to believe that the chapter was improving."

Sigma Phi Epsilon CEO Brian Warren said the group had "no choice" but to close the unit.

"Though it's always painful to close a chapter, these students' actions clearly illustrate a determination to perpetuate an experience based on risky and unconstructive behavior," he said in a statement.

Blanton said students currently living in the Sigma Phi Epsilon house on campus would be allowed to stay and eat meals there through the end of the semester, but would not be allowed to have any social activities. After that, he said the university, which owns the land under the house, and the fraternity would discuss uses for the structure.

Sigma Phi officials said they would discuss a return to campus with the university. It's not clear how long that might take. Blanton said that several years ago, the university did not reinstate the closed chapter of another fraternity until all the members at the time of the closure had graduated.

Administrators have fought against the university's Old South image, banning Confederate battle flags from football games in 2003 and ditching its Colonel Reb mascot for a black bear in 2010. But those efforts have been undermined by unflattering incidents, such as an election night disturbance in November 2012 when some students used racial slurs and profanity to protest President Barack Obama's re-election, or an October 2013 performance of "The Laramie Project" where football players and other students used gay slurs to heckle the play about the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepherd, who was gay.

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Cindy April 17 2014 at 11:46 PM

Einstein put it best when he said "there are two things that infinite:: The universe and human stupidity....and not so sure about the universe."

Flag Reply +11 rate up
gmgpjandon April 18 2014 at 10:25 AM

I once asked ,does the government reflect the people or does the people reflect the government? After taking a close look at our people, I believe the masses reflect the government. Sad.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
usapaydirt April 18 2014 at 9:25 AM

Yea that's pretty bad , but at Bethune in Florida , they actually kill their band mates during their hazing ....

Flag Reply +3 rate up
vpawlowski April 17 2014 at 10:36 PM

I am glad to see my alma mater finally do the right thing. Racism should be addressed at all fraternities--not just the ones with the rich white kids. My experience is that anytime a social organization exists which excludes or limits its membership by choice or circumstance to a single race or class, the potential for racism is elevated. Racism--classism--it's all the same--bad for business.

Flag Reply +15 rate up
1 reply
jdm61cc vpawlowski April 17 2014 at 11:01 PM

Oh........you mean like Omega Psi Phi fraternity? or the other 20 odd Greek organizations that are essentially all African-American? But of course, having your pledges brand themselves with an Omega is not hazing, right?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
runswthscisors40 April 17 2014 at 11:46 PM

You don't need a college degree to be an idiot...................

Flag Reply +13 rate up
1 reply
barryaclarke runswthscisors40 April 18 2014 at 12:03 AM

Recently on AOL, they had a Harvard Graduate that was on "The Wheel of Fortune." Three times he had a chance of winning a lot of money except he couldn't pronounce the words properly to the puzzle and one time none of the letters were missing. Now this is another example of an idiot.............

Flag Reply +1 rate up
IBruzEZ April 18 2014 at 11:58 AM

Good thing to close this chapter if the ones in it are this stupid and ignorant.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
1 reply
ogledude IBruzEZ April 18 2014 at 12:04 PM

why are you so bruz, guilty conscience I presume

Flag Reply 0 rate up
moose April 17 2014 at 11:07 PM

YEP, in spite of all the rapid direction with High Tech, this nation is continuing on a spiral of digression with it's morals and mentality.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
gettemcowboys April 18 2014 at 9:33 AM

Im a proud white male. Proud of my southern Confederate heritage. And ******** like this make a bad name for people like me. Them draping the flag because a protion of it is the Confederate Battle flag, is ignorant. The Confederacy did not fight for slavery. This is embarrassing to me, and they should be removed from school.

Flag Reply +17 rate up
5 replies
James M. Adams April 18 2014 at 6:49 AM

Ever notice that the fools who say "I hate southerners, they're all bigots" cannot see the hypocrisy in their own words?

Flag Reply +17 rate up
1 reply
mickylitz2 James M. Adams April 18 2014 at 6:52 AM

So true James...

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Ralph L. McNeal, April 18 2014 at 1:05 PM

Just kids...Kids become adults and the legacy continues and duplicated because; they are "just kids?"

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
mbmtebb Ralph L. McNeal, April 18 2014 at 4:26 PM

How do you suggest to educate these kids?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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