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Ole Miss Suspends Fraternity After Black Student Alleges Harassment and Assault

A University of Mississippi fraternity has been suspended for a year after a Black student said he was the victim of a racial slur and a physical assault at a fraternity party.

Jeremiah Taylor, an 18-year-old freshman from Southaven, Miss., said he was pushed down the stairs while attending a Delta Kappa Epsilon party Aug. 22 on the Oxford campus, according to Jeffrey Alford, associate vice chancellor for university relations at Ole Miss.

The student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian, reported Friday on its Web site that Taylor said he was called the “n-word” at the fraternity party.

Alford said Taylor filed a complaint on Aug. 24 with the Dean of Students’ office.

“The Dean of Students’ office investigated and brought the information to the council (University Judiciary Council),” said Alford.

Alford said the party got out of hand and people were asked to leave. Taylor told Mississippi Public Broadcasting in a Sept. 10 radio report that he was on his way downstairs, when “a guy in an orange shirt threw a beer can at me and hit me in my left shoulder. When I turned around, two more guys that were right there on the stairwell like pushed, shoved me down the stairs.”

Alford said the judicial council met Wednesday and listened to testimony from 20 people. It met again Thursday to review the case and made its decision which was released Friday during a news conference on campus.

Ole Miss officials announced Friday that the council had found the historically White fraternity guilty of violations of harassment, assault, disorderly conduct, possession of alcohol and hosting an unauthorized party.

“In addition to the one-year suspension, the fraternity was fined $1,000 to be used to fund an alcohol and drug education program on the campus; each of the members are required to do 20 hours of community service and each is required to participate in a racial sensitivity and alcohol drug abuse program,” Alford said.

The Daily Mississippian reported that this is the first strike against the fraternity in the university’s two-strike alcohol policy.

Eric Freeman, director of operations for the fraternity’s national office in Ann Arbor, Mich., told The Clarion-Ledger newspaper that the one-year suspension was too severe and an appeal was likely.

When asked by The Associated Press if this was the first time Ole Miss had suspended a fraternity for racial slurs and harassment, Alford said, “I don’t know. It certainly is the first time in recent memory.”

Fraternity members can continue to live at the fraternity residence and take their meals there, but they cannot recruit or socialize, Alford said.

He said that all Ole Miss freshmen take a creed that says “I believe in respect for the dignity of each person.”

“We’re an institution of higher education and that’s what we do best teach and train and help young people grow and mature and handle conflicts and disagreements more maturely,” Alford said.

– Associated Press

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