ODU fraternity suspended over homemade signs

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The National Headquarters of Sigma Nu Fraternity have suspended Old Dominion University’s Eta Chi Chapter after learning some of its members may have been involved in making and hanging tasteless banners over the weekend.

The banners, seen hanging from a private home on 43rd street just off campus, read “Rowdy and fun, hope your baby girl is ready for a good time,” “Freshman daughter drop off” and “go ahead and drop off mom too.” According to ODU’s website, this weekend also marked the beginning of classes for freshmen students.

In a statement, Sigma Nu said:

Sigma Nu Fraternity has suspended the activities of the Eta Chi Chapter at Old Dominion University pending completion of an investigation into offensive banners displayed from an off-campus, privately-owned property near the ODU campus last week. The Fraternity condemns the derogatory and demeaning language used on the banners. Such language has no place in our Fraternity or within any caring community, such as that of ODU. Any Fraternity member found to be responsible for this reprehensible display will be held accountable by the Fraternity.

Document: Full statement from Sigma Nu Fraternity Executive Director 

Saturday, ODU told WAVY.com the men voluntarily took down the signs. Monday, WAVY.com spoke with Ellen Neufeldt, Vice President of Student Enrollment and Education Services. She says the University is investigating all the students living in the house to determine if the student code of conduct or the school’s discrimination policy were violated.

“We work so hard to educate our students and have so many outstanding students here at ODU. For our student body to be represented that way and for any student to think it’s OK to display that it’s just not something that’s acceptable. I don’t find it acceptable. The university doesn’t find it acceptable. We just don’t tolerate that,” Neufeldt said. She could not comment on specifics of this investigation or which specific policies are being looked into. But she did talk about the efforts the school makes to educate students on sexual harassment.

“Every freshmen that joins Old Dominion University on Saturday was in what we call, “first class” which is educational components to help them be successful and part of that was sexual harassment,” she explained. Old Dominion University also has peer mentors and a Women’s Center, as well as continuing education.

“We don’t believe you just go in once and do it, we layer education throughout the year to reinforce it,” Neufeldt said. Nuefeldt didn’t go so far as to call the banners harassing, but said the matter is under investigation and added that university and student leaders are looking into whether more sexual harassment education is needed, just one day into the start of the semester.

“I’ve got to tell you we sat down yesterday afternoon already and we’re looking at our educational program, what we need to do. I met with student leaders yesterday, they want to refocus their efforts. So yes, we’re always going to take a look and see what more we can do,”

ODU released the following statement:

We thank the national organization of Sigma Nu for partnering with Old Dominion University in making a strong statement that the behavior of a few student members will not be tolerated, by announcing the suspension of their local chapter’s activities.

Neither Old Dominion University nor Sigma Nu Fraternity said how long their investigations might take. Check back on WAVY.com for updates as this story continues to develop.


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