Sorority members discuss harassment

Bryan Wroten

Lauren Botzenhart, Chi Omega personnel chairperson, answers questions from members of BUS and Zeta Phi Beta last night at Oscar Ritchie Hall. SEAN DAUGHERTY | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Harassment of sorority members led to another meeting between Chi Omega and black student organizations.

Chi Omega and other sororities’ members have been spat on, had rocks thrown at them and been accused of racism while walking around campus recently.

Executive board members of Black United Students, the Kent State NAACP chapter and Zeta Phi Beta called an emergency meeting last night to deal with the harassment. Five members of the Chi Omega executive board attended the meeting.

“People were taking it upon themselves to take things into their own hands and do inappropriate things,” BUS President Sasha Parker said.

Chi Omega members are being harassed after the sorority gave out an award to the “Blackest Chi Omega” at its formal a week ago.

Candice Poole, Zeta Phi Beta treasurer, said the students harassing Chi Omega members do not represent Zeta Phi Beta. The students are still unidentified, she said, but they are two black men. She then asked those attending the meeting to come forward after the meeting if they knew anything about the situation.

A girl who is not a Chi Omega member but is in another sorority had water dumped on her and then was spat on, she added.

“This is not something we support,” Poole said. “We want it stopped.”

Lauren Botzenhart, Chi Omega personnel director, read a statement expressing the sorority’s concern about the spitting and other harassments. Girls are not wearing their letters because they are afraid of getting spit on, she read. They are not accusing anyone of the harassment, she read, they just want it to end.

Girls have been spit on, another had rocks thrown at her and allegedly fliers calling Chi Omega a racist organization have been passed around the Student Center, said Sarah Dick, vice president of Chi Omega. As for incidents involving non-Chi Omega members, she said it is probably because most people do not know Greek letters.

Parker said she realizes just as the actions of a few Chi Omega members stereotyped their organization, the actions of a few black men could become a problem for them. However, she said they caught the problem early enough to keep them to isolated events.

During the meeting, there was controversy over an e-mail sent to a professor in Oscar Ritchie Hall by a Chi Omega member. The writer of the e-mail said she did not feel safe going to the building. The professor then passed the message on to BUS, Kent State NAACP and Zeta Phi Beta. Chi Omega board members said they did not know anything about the e-mail.

Before the issue became too heated, Parker moved the discussion about the e-mail until after the meeting.

Parker said she was pleased by the meeting’s turnout. She said it was helpful to the students that they had a chance to talk to and ask questions of the Chi Omega executive board.

The whole issue could really be a blessing in disguise, said Shanelle Smith, president of the Kent State NAACP. It’s getting the campus to talk about racial issues openly, she said.

At the end of the meetings, Dick said they had worked out some solutions to the problem. They will have educational programs for the current members of the sorority as well as new members, she said. There will also be a meeting between Chi Omega and Zeta Phi Beta, she said.

Parker said the next step is to make sure the situation progresses beyond meetings.

“We’ll meet with them to make sure these steps are taken into action,” she said. “With the black students involved, it can’t be just talk.”

Contact minority affairs reporter Bryan Wroten at [email protected]