Students protest after fraternity uses racial slur at campus event

Published: Mar. 19, 2018 at 2:51 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 20, 2018 at 4:52 AM CDT
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(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Students at the University of Memphis held a silent protest Monday after a fraternity used a racial slur at a campus event.

The event, hosted by the Pi Beta Phi sorority, was a charity event raising money for children's literacy.

Students in attendance said that members of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity used the slur as a part of a karaoke performance that took place during a fundraiser Friday night despite being warned against using that song.

"The song that they used was n-word in Paris. That's actually the name of the song," Jessika Williams, who was at the event, said. "For a predominantly white organization or any organization period to use the n-word, it was very disrespectful and very inconsiderate."

"The word, unfortunately, is in the song. However, student groups and other students here on campus firmly believe that even if that word was in that song, the song as a whole shouldn't have been used, period," University of Memphis NAACP President Dale Claybrone Jr. said. "We just want a bit of accountability added to those who were involved."

Monday's protest took place inside the University Center at University of Memphis. The protesters stood silently inside the building with signs that criticized the use of the n-word.

"I'm just here to let them know it's not OK. We do consider this a very big deal," student Maya Gray said.

"Nobody should say it--no matter what your race--because it's a harmful word," student Sam Ellis said.

The University of Memphis released the following statement regarding the incident:

"The University of Memphis was made aware of allegations involving racial and bigoted language exhibited by a fraternity member at a student event. Racism and bigotry will not be tolerated. All allegations are currently being thoroughly investigated, and if found to be accurate, immediate steps will be taken to address the behavior with the individual, local chapter and national organization. The University of Memphis takes seriously all such behavior and has the strongest of commitments to continuing efforts to educate our campus community."

The University of Memphis chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon announced in a series of tweets Monday that the student involved had been suspended from the fraternity.

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