Willamette fraternity loses house in scandal

SALEM — A fraternity at Willamette University has lost its on-campus house indefinitely following an investigation into Facebook comments that became public.

Dozens of students demonstrated against the Sigma Chi chapter in early May after comments from a private Facebook group of fraternity members were posted online. They included conversations that used sexually explicit and degrading language to describe women students and faculty members.

Officials from Willamette University and Sigma Chi's national organization quickly began a joint investigation. Days later, a dozen fraternity members, including the chapter president, were voted out by their brothers.

On Thursday, the school announced the investigation was over and the chapter was found to have violated university conduct standards, The Statesman Journal newspaper reported.

Besides the house, the chapter lost its recruiting privileges indefinitely. Other sanctions are as follows:

  • The chapter must transform its leadership and develop educational and advising programs.
  • The full membership must participate in programming endorsed by the university and related to healthy masculinity.
  • The chapter must abstain from social programming for the duration of the coming academic year.

Emily Burke, a recent graduate who was the target of disparaging comments, told the Statesman Journal she supports the penalties.

"I feel this outcome will provide a good opportunity for the remaining members to seriously focus on their chapter and the ideals that they truly want to portray and live by," Burke said.

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