Wichita State addresses report of 'derogatory statement' aimed at Latino-based fraternity

WICHITA, Kan. Wichita State University and the Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity address an incident from Saturday involving possible use of a derogatory statement from a member of the Interfraternal Council (IFC).

Wichita State's Latino-based fraternity, Sigma Lambda Beta said the incident happened during woman's fraternity, Kappa Kappa Gamma's Kappa-ture the flag event. In a news release, Sigma Lambda Beta says the statement "directly affected our brothers."

"While the intent may not have been malicious, this incident has certainly impacted our chapter," the fraternity says. "The hateful actions paired with the complacency of those attending this event is is unacceptable."

"As a Latino-based fraternity with the Multicultural Membership, it is our responsibility to demand a safe and inclusive environment for all students," Sigma Lambda Beta continues. "We will not tolerate this bias incident or others from any group who prevents Wichita State students from achieving an inclusive community. More importantly, we acknowledge that this issue is much larger than this singular incident."

The fraternity did not disclose what the derogatory statement was as the incident is under investigation. Whatever did happen, it rose to enough significance for Wichita State University's Vice President of Student Affairs to also issue a statement.

"I have learned of an incident that took place this weekend that has negatively impacted members of our Fraternity and Sorority Life system," the statement released Monday by Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Teri Hall says. "During a philanthropic event hosted by one of our National Panhellenic sororities, it is reported that a member of a WSU fraternity made a derogatory comment that was directed at, heard by and was perceived as racially-motivated by other fraternity members."

Hall says a bias incident report has been filed with the university.

"The purpose of this reporting system is not to start a punitive action, but to allow WSU to address incidents and respond in other ways using education, speaking out and or other appropriate means," Hall says.

She says no matter how the remark sparking the report was intended, "it was badly received and is not consistent with norms of civility we want in our university and society.

Also in response to Saturday's incident, Wichita State's Phi Xi Chapter of Delta Delta Delta issued a statement expressing its support for Sigma Lambda Beta and the Multicultural Greek Council.

"Delta Delta Delta is a sorority which prides itself on being kind alike to all. We, as a chapter, do not condone any actions or statements that can be perceived as hateful or hurtful, as they oppose our values of truth, self-sacrifice, and friendship," the sorority says.

Monday afternoon, Eyewitness News sat down with Wichita State University Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement, Dr. Marche Fleming Randle to address what happened Saturday.

Fleming-Randle says her job is more than just a title and that her main priority is her students, no matter the situation.

"When I got the phone call, I was kind of taken aback," she says. "When something like this happens, I always ask them to put it in writing."

That phone call came Saturday night when a member of the Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity contacted Fleming-Randle for help. In the incident that day, once student allegedly yelled "build the wall," toward members of the fraternity primarily made up of Latino members.

As the university says it's investigating the incident, Dr. Fleming-Randle says it's her mission to get to the truth.