An email written by a member of the Zeta Upsilon chapter of Sigma Chi fraternity at the College of William and Mary stirred controversy this week after it was posted online Tuesday.
The email, originally sent to members of Sigma Chi’s listserv, was leaked to the website “Total Sorority Move.” By that night, a link to TSM’s story had been posted to the Facebook group “Overheard at William and Mary,” where it had received 206 comments and 238 “likes” at press time.
The message, with the subject line “Life, love, and pussy,” describes the author’s concept for a community outreach program titled “Save the sluts.” Various comments on Overheard condemned the email, describing it as misogynistic. Sigma Chi President Charlie Engh ’16 released a statement about the email.
“We deeply regret the message that was sent through our listserv encouraging actions that are inconsistent with our values as Sigma Chis,” Engh said in the statement. “The message was disrespectful toward women, and that is not who we are as a chapter. We have moved to suspend the individual who was responsible for the message and International Fraternity leaders are taking action to ensure proper disciplinary measures are taken. Rest assured that we are also voluntarily taking an internal review of our membership, to be sure that our chapter is comprised only of men of the highest character. Until then, we have voluntarily and proactively ceased normal chapter operations.”
The Sigma Chi International’s advisors also issued a statement regarding the email.
“The Sigma Chi International Fraternity stands behind the actions taken by the chapter in response to the email distributed by one of the members in their chapter — namely, to begin appropriate disciplinary proceedings on the member, voluntarily cease normal chapter operations, and to escalate the disciplinary proceedings within the international fraternity,” the statement reads. “The content contained in the email is unacceptable and wildly inconsistent with the values of Sigma Chi. Misogynistic discourse, even in jest, is repugnant, disgusting and distasteful and has no place in our world — particularly in connection with an organization whose mission is to ‘Create values-based leaders committed to the betterment of character, campus, and community.’ We are working in conjunction with the administration at William & Mary to let the concept of appropriate justice play out and to repair the damage done to the community as a result of this individual member’s abhorrent action.”
Administrators have not yet said what type of disciplinary actions will be taken against the individual behind the email.
By Wednesday afternoon, College President Taylor Reveley and Vice President of Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88 M.Ed. ’06 had also commented on the email, in an announcement that was published on the College’s website.
“We learned of this email Wednesday morning,” Reveley wrote. “It’s flatly unacceptable. We put a lot of emphasis on building community at William & Mary, and a crucial element of community is respect for one another. This email makes clear we have more work to do. This serious lapse in community will serve as a teachable moment to that end.”