Halloween party heightens racial tensions


Published: Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
BALTIMORE - Johns Hopkins University has suspended the Sigma Chi fraternity because of a "Halloween in the Hood" party that drew protests by black students.
The invitation to the party, posted on the Web site Facebook, encouraged guests to wear "regional clothing from our locale" with jewelry including "bling bling ice ice, grills" and "hoochie hoops."
The party, held Saturday night at the fraternity house, featured a skeleton pirate hanging on a noose.
Black Student Union members protested the party on Monday, saying the appearance of the image and the language on the invitation highlighted racial tensions at Hopkins and the strained relations between the university and the surrounding community.
Protesters held signs showing a historical lynching next to a picture of the fraternity's skeleton.
"We need to educate the student body because apparently some people weren't given much of a proper lesson in the history of our country," said Yasmene Mumby, 20, a junior and BSU member.
University officials suspended all the fraternity's activities pending a full investigation. President William Brody said in a statement that he was "personally offended" and called the matter "deeply disturbing."
Sigma Chi's international headquarters on Monday also ordered the chapter's operations suspended for 45 days and said a full investigation was under way. It said further disciplinary action was possible.
"We are naturally very concerned about these allegations, and are committed to holding every one of our members accountable to our fraternity's values of friendship, justice and learning," Mark Anderson, executive secretary of Sigma Chi, said on the fraternity's Web site.
More than 100 students attended a campus forum Monday night before a panel of top administrators. Three men who identified themselves as Sigma Chi members stood up during the meeting and apologized for the actions of the author of the invitation, calling it shameful.
Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, president of the Baltimore branch of the NAACP, said he intends to explore legal action against both the fraternity and the university.

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