North Carolina State halts fraternity parties after pledge book with rape jokes surfaces

NC State announces ban of all fraternity activities involving alcohol after recent controversies

North Carolina State University announced an immediate halt to all fraternity activities involving alcohol Friday, less than 24 hours after campus officials obtained a copy of a "pledge book" filled with jokes about sexual assault and lynching black men.

The Pi Kappa Phi fraternity was suspended Thursday night, after a student showed the book to the staff of WRAL, a Raleigh television station.

"It will be short and painful, just like when I rape you," read one statement in the book, according to the WRAL report. 

"That tree is so perfect for lynching," reads another.

On Friday afternoon, the campus announced a "temporary cessation of all social activities including alcohol" for the school's fraternal organizations.

“This is about working with the Greek community to agree on shared values and to exceed the behavioral standards,” Mike Mullen, vice chancellor for academic and student affairs at NC State, said in a statement. “The goal is to be a model of how to engage with students in the process to try and effect change.”

The school will hold a series of meetings with the campus' Greek leadership to identify ways to improve diversity and identify other issues that need to be addressed, according to the statement.

The Pi Kappa Phi incident is the latest in a series of embarrassing revelations for fraternities at some of the nation's largest campuses. On March 9, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Oklahoma became the target of national outrage after a video of members dancing and chanting about a lynching was leaked to a black student organization.

One week later, the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity at Penn State University became the target of a criminal investigation after police were made aware of a Facebook page that contained photos of nude, in some cases unconscious, women and allegations of rampant drug use.

The lynching comments come at a troubling time, as police in Mississippi and the FBI are investigating the death of a 54-year-old man found hanging from a tree Thursday in Claiborne County. It remains unclear if the man's death is a homicide or suicide.

Mick Kulikowski, a university spokesman, said the campus obtained a copy of a Pi Kappa Phi pledge book on Friday morning, less than 12 hours after the WRAL report aired.

“NC State does not condone intolerant behaviors directed at any members of the community, and the content in the book that surfaced Thursday night is deeply troubling," Mullen said in an earlier statement.

Pi Kappa Phi, which has more than 100,000 members in 160 chapters throughout the U.S., also suspended the NC State chapter on Thursday night.

“The written comments and quotes reported earlier this evening are offensive and unacceptable,” Pi Kappa Phi Chief Executive Officer Mark E. Timmes said in a statement. “These statements are inconsistent with the values of Pi Kappa Phi and will not be tolerated.”

The Pi Kappa Phi controversy marks the second time NC State has had to suspend a fraternity this month. Campus officials suspended the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity’s local chapter on March 1, after a student made a sexual assault complaint involving some of its members, said Fred Hartman, director of communications for NC State.

Earlier on Friday, a separate campus spokesman told the Los Angeles Times that the fraternity was suspended after drugs were found in the organization’s residence. Hartman said the spokesman’s earlier comments were incorrect.

NC State's Interfraternity Council joined Mullen in announcing the halt to social activities.

“Recent allegations of behavioral issues do not reflect the overwhelming members or the values of our fraternities at NC State,” IFC president John Stewart said in a statement.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

2:49 p.m.: This post updated with confirmation that the university has suspended all fraternity activities involving alcohol.

11:07 a.m.: This post updated with additional comments from the university's director of communications, correcting inaccurate information provided earlier by a university spokesman regarding the suspension of Alpha Tau Omega.

The first version of this post published at 10:33 a.m.

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