Distortion of TDX incident
April 20, 2007
The Flat Hat reported in the April 10 issue that two separate incidents occurred at Theta Delta Chi on April 1. The first incident occurred in the TDX unit when human excrement was found on the dance floor. The second occurred after the dance floor was cleared when two students of the College argued outside the fraternity. According to a complaint by one of the students involved, the other student began to yell anti-gay remarks at him outside of the units. The Flat Hat staff wrote an editorial about the event in the same issue.
p. First, I think it is important to point out that it was not a Phi Tau fraternity member who put human excrement on the floor of TDX, which was clearly implied in the article, “Prank, slurs probed.” Second, I think that it is unfortunate and indefensible if anti-gay remarks were made during the argument between the two students. However, I think the incident was grossly misrepresented in the article, which only serves to hurt both fraternities implicated.
p. I applaud TDX for declining to comment on the story. They were right to recognize the event as an individual issue, rather than an organizational one. Whatever was said represents the opinions of a single member, not Phi Tau as a whole. There has been no suggestion or evidence that the fraternity supports these types of remarks. However, the article generated more controversy by implying that the dispute between the two individuals was part of, or at least representative of, a broader tension or rivalry between two fraternities. The article refers to the student who made the remarks as “the Phi Tau brother,” as if that is somehow connected to the statements he made. The repeated identification of the fraternity is unnecessary and only serves to paint a negative picture of Phi Tau and Greek life on campus.
p. It is true that when a member of a fraternity is recognized for some positive achievement or good behavior, the fraternity often benefits from that attention. So of course, it should be expected that the same rules apply when a member is recognized for bad behavior. In the staff editorial, it is specifically stated that individual statements are not reflective of the fraternity as a whole; however, such poor statements will obviously reflect poorly on their peers. But it is a question of degree.
p. This incident involves the words and actions of one person, not several or the entire fraternity. All of us who are part of the College community know how quickly reputations can be made and destroyed. The student apologized for what he said and he certainly needs to reconsider his choices for the future. However, now it must be left to the school and the fraternity to decide whether or not a punishment will be issued.
p. Both the article and editorial over-dramatized the event, inciting a false rivalry between the two fraternities and giving the impression that the conflict was somehow connected to such a rivalry. Journalists often dramatize stories in order to make them more interesting to read; however, they also have an obligation to give a balanced account of an event. It is not up to The Flat Hat to manipulate the situation when many of the details remain unclear.
p. While the dispute happened to occur between members of two separate fraternities, their membership in such organizations was entirely irrelevant to the dispute. I agree that any anti-gay remarks which were made are entirely unacceptable and it is certainly no excuse that the individual was drunk. But there is no need to characterize a dispute between two individuals in such a way that unnecessarily polarizes members of two large fraternities.
p. The article also stated that the student who allegedly made such remarks is set to face the Judicial Council, while no such meeting has been scheduled. I think that both articles grossly misrepresented the incident. Both fraternities are well respected on campus, and I would hope that a rivalry between the two organizations does not arise from this incident.
p. __Rachael Siemon-Carome, a freshman at the College, is a staff columnist. Her columns appear on Fridays.__