At Old Dominion University, some new students and parents arriving at the Norfolk campus Friday were startled to find three huge banners hanging from a private off-campus house touting rowdy fun, with an arrow pointing to the front door labeled, “Freshman daughter drop off.”
(The next sign suggested, “Go ahead and drop off Mom too…”)
University leaders quickly denounced the banners, which were reported in the Huffington Post after someone posted photos online and were taken down after officials contacted the students who hung them.
National leaders of the Sigma Nu fraternity suspended the chapter at ODU pending an investigation, president Brad Beacham announced Monday.
“The Fraternity condemns the derogatory and demeaning language used on the banners,” he said in a statement. “Such language has no place in our Fraternity or within any caring community, such as that of ODU.”
John Broderick, the president of ODU, released a public statement saying he was “outraged about the offensive message directed toward women.”
He added: “While we constantly educate students, faculty and staff about sexual assault and sexual harassment, this incident confirms our collective efforts are still failing to register with some.”
Broderick wrote that a young woman told him she had seriously considered going back home after she saw the signs but was reassured when she read the responses from other students on social media. “She realized this callous and senseless act did not reflect the Old Dominion she has come to love.”
Broderick said there is no tolerance on campus for sexual assault and harassment. He described the new student government association campaign aimed at preventing sexual assault on campus, with video, online and in-person training throughout the year, including sessions for freshmen this past weekend.
He also posted a link to a video from student leaders responding to the signs:
Some students laughed off the banners as an obvious joke about all the anti-sexual-assault education happening on campuses across the country, but others said they showed how badly that kind of training is needed.
There was a banner exactly like that when I was moving into ODU and no one said anything about it… It was funny… Everyone needs to chill
— riana (@riiaaana) August 23, 2015
A professor at another college posted, “And the latest in male machismo, sexism, and rape culture.
ODU officials were quick to add their own “welcome” messages to social media, with no bedsheets, no spray paint, and lots of pretty flowers.