Delta Chi headquarters shuts down Windsor chapter over racist and hateful chat messages

·3 min read

The Delta Chi fraternity headquarters says it has closed down operations of its Windsor chapter and suspended all its members after racist and hateful messages were allegedly exchanged by its members connected to the University of Windsor chapter.

It will seek to permanently close the chapter as part of an internal investigation.

"I am appalled and disgusted at what was presented to the University and our International Headquarters," Jerod Breit, Executive Director of Delta Chi, said in a statement to CBC News.

"That anyone, let alone members of Delta Chi, would say or believe in what these students, many now alumni, have expressed is deeply disturbing."

The statement said the international headquarters, based in Indianapolis, will seek the maximum penalty for the members allegedly involved, which is permanent expulsion.

It went on to say that the International Fraternity Headquarters "has placed the Windsor chapter under conservatorship, suspended the student membership of all undergraduates, and ceased operations indefinitely, pending the outcome of the commission hearing." It added that it will then seek a permanent suspension of the chapter.

"Delta Chi denounces all forms of hatred, racism, bigotry and violence, and holds individuals accountable for actions that do not reflect our values," the statement said.

The messages included hateful comments directed at wide variety of ethnic and religious groups, homophobic slurs and comments celebrating violence.

Windsor police confirmed Friday they are investigating.

Some faculty at the University of Windsor expressed outrage in response to the incident.

"We're reeling, that's about all I can say," said Richard Douglass-Chin, an associate professor of English and women's studies.

"It's not that we're shocked, because I think that this is an issue. What's shocking about it is it's coming to the public eye, and people are starting to talk about it," he added. "Which is good because it's there, and it has been there."

Sujith Xavier, an associate professor in the Faculty of Law, was critical of a statement from the university which distanced itself from the fraternity.

"[The fraternity members] are part of our community and we have to take responsibility for what they did, which were racist, homophobic, etc. And so for [University of Windsor president Rob Gordon] to then say, to kind of push against this, I think is really disingenuous."

The private Facebook messages allegedly made by members and alumni of the frat were exposed by two university anti-racism groups, which sent them to the university demanding action.

The university Thursday denounced the messages and said it would launch an investigation. The university statement said that Delta Chi, like all fraternities and sororities at the university, does not have a formal relationship with the University of Windsor or its student union, but sometimes books university spaces 'for meetings or activities." That opportunity was immediately suspended.

University President Robert Gordon said in an updated statement Friday that the university had retained legal experts to investigate the messages.

"The investigation is being led by Malcolm McKillop, Laura Williams, and Richard Appiah. Each of them has deep experience as a legal professional and investigator of discrimination and equity-related issues," he said.

"Their investigation will work to verify the highly inappropriate messages and actions and confirm any violations of the University's code of conduct. Its purview will extend to making any recommendations of disciplinary action."

He said the investigation will begin on Monday, and said the university has encouraged anyone with information that may assist the investigation to share it with the investigators.

In a separate letter Friday to the Windsor chapter's president, the headquarters ordered the chapter to cease all operations immediately. That includes everything from social functions to messaging between the chapter's members.

The letter files six charges against the chapter, including "Violation of the Delta Chi Basic Expectation #2 - 'I will respect the dignity and worth of all persons. I will not physically, mentally, or psychologically or sexually abuse or haze any human being.'"

The letter also said that the fraternity's conservator has removed all the executives at the chapter from their positions.