Frat brothers to be banned for Facebook messages

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Facebook messages described as vulgar and crass surfaced Saturday from members of the Sigma Chi fraternity at Willamette University in Salem. Now the national fraternity reports that fraternity member bannings are in the works as of May 7, 2013. (KOIN 6 News)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Juliana Cohen’s name was smeared through social media by fraternity members on an Oregon college campus.

And she wasn’t the only one targeted by messages surfacing Saturday from members of the Sigma Chi fraternity at Willamette University in Salem. Willamette University President Stephen Thorsett called the posts crude, misogynistic and deeply upsetting.

In response, Sigma Chi national headquarters issued this statement to KOIN 6 News:

“Not only am I appalled by the statements made, but so is the chapter. We are in the process of banning 10 to 12 brothers from the fraternity. This will not be swept under the rug.”

The controversy has rocked Salem’s Willamette University campus. The postings targeted female students, and Cohen was one of them. The posts were from a private Facebook group that surfaced in as screenshots on a WordPress blog, according to the Statesman Journal in Salem. By Sunday, the word had spread.

“I was completely outraged,” one student told KOIN 6 News. “I was completely offended by the awful things they were saying.”

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Juliana Cohen talks to KOIN 6 News on May 7 as a controversy rocks Salem’s Willamette University campus following private Facebook postings which ended up being made public. The posts targeted female students, and she was one of them. (KOIN 6 News)

The online comment aimed at Cohen was so profane it can’t be reported here. Other postings objectified the female body and threatened violence against a female student.

“They claim to be honest and upstanding gentleman,” Cohen said, “but the language they used did not reflect that.”

Willamette University spokesperson Adam Torgerson told KOIN 6 News these are atrocious remarks that don’t represent Willamette values. And, actually, that’s why our students are so upset.”

The involved fraternity members also could be disciplined by the university. That’s something Juliana Cohen welcomes.

“Everyone,” she said, “was outraged.”

On Wednesday, Willamette University followed this outrage by suspending its Salem Sigma Chi Fraternity “pending the outcome of the investigation sometime this summer,” Torgerson told the Statesman Journal. That move, the journal reports, was followed by all 12 of the involved Sigma Chi members being voted out of the Willamette fraternity by their brothers.

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