To the gentlemen of the Zeta Theta Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha,
I am sure that you are now dealing with a lot, as the news just broke about the alleged rape involving one of your chapter's members. I do hope that you will be able to take the time to read this, and consider my point of view.
As a member of the U of M greek community, I understand the pride we take in our letters, in our sister/brotherhood, in our ritual, and in our core values.
I acknowledge the fact that the Zeta Theta Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha has earned and upheld a positive reputation on campus throughout the years, as brothers are very active on campus, and work visibly hard to support Feeding America, as well as supporting other greek organizations and their respective philanthropies.
I truly believe that the gentlemen of Lambda Chi Alpha have no ill intentions towards students, or other members of fraternities and sororities.
However, I wanted to reach out to you because I was disappointed, and honestly horrified beyond words at the way many of your brothers handled the situation of the rape case being printed in The Daily Helmsman. When I read that one of the alleged rapists in this case was a Lambda Chi, no part of me automatically associated the entire fraternity with the case.
I believed that if he was guilty, that would be an individual situation, one that Lambda Chi would surely condemn. I expected that the fraternity might make a public statement expressing sympathy for the victim, and explain how their chapter does not approve of this awful behavior.
That expectation I had of respect, integrity, and honor for Lambda Chi was let down, as I watched letter shirt after letter shirt after letter shirt pass me as I walked on campus this morning. I saw so much Chop pride, it appeared to be founder's day. I prayed that I was seeing things, that this was not what I thought it was.
No one in their right mind would boast pride for an organization just one day after a story broke that a member of that organization had committed a violent crime, right? I was stunned the see countless men in Lambda Chi Alpha shirts, and I nearly lost it when I then realized how many women were also wearing these shirts.
I figured that these shirts could've been worn for one of three reasons; 1) The gentlemen of this fraternity believed that the accused brother was innocent, and they all were showing support and loyalty for their brother. 2) They were trying to send a message of 'not all chops', trying to push aside any negative connotation one might be attaching to their letters. 3) They were trying to convey a message that the alleged rapist was never, or no longer was a member of Lambda Chi, and their values were above any sort of criminal behavior.
After asking a few brothers the reasoning behind their choice of T-shirt today, I received many answers resembling 'what do you mean? I just woke up and grabbed a random shirt, if other brothers are wearing this today, it must be a coincidence!' And unfortunately and unexpectedly, I did have one brother rudely tell me 'I pay $120 a month, I can wear my letters if I want to'.
A few mentioned that they were not advised to comment, and therefore, I can't conclude what message you were all trying to push by wearing those shirts.
I will tell you this; although I firmly believe that this is not the case, it looks like your chapter is standing by rape by wearing these shirts immediately after the story was released.
You don't get to control the interpretations of students who see this happening, if you don't release a statement explaining your stance. If your goal is to come together as brothers and improve your reputation on campus, those who have worn their shirts today have done exactly the opposite.
If your goal was to show that 'not all Lambda Chis are like this,' (which is so not the point), the way it was communicated was inappropriate. And, if your chapter believes that the accused brother was innocent, wearing letter shirts so soon is without a doubt, too soon.
If one of my sorority sisters was suspected of committing a violent crime, you wouldn't catch me wearing my letters for a long, long time, out of respect for the potential victim, students who have been victims in similar situations, and in order to disassociate the greek community with such a horrific act.
As someone who has seen people close to me go through physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, I know to a certain extent how painful, draining, and life altering a situation like this can be. However, I do not claim to understand quite what the victim in this case is currently going through.
I would feel abandoned and in danger if I had been sexually assaulted by a fraternity member- and had to wake up to see a large portion of students proudly wearing my attacker’s letters immediately after everyone found out about the case.
I cannot express enough how extremely important it is to acknowledge that the reputation of a greek community is never, under any circumstance more of a priority than justice. This is a situation that needs to be publicly discussed, and anyone who attempts to prevent that from happening (throwing out the newspapers) is contributing to the dangerous rape culture that exists in this country today.
Every day, I am proud to be greek, but after today's events, I could not be more ashamed. I hope that you will be able to communicate to your chapter how ignorant and inappropriate it was to use your letters as a way to silence a rape victim, and I hope that you will be able to rise above this by condemning these behaviors, and acting as the gentlemen I know you all are from this point forward.
And I will say this with all the due respect that I can gather; I have never, in my entire life, seen a situation so serious handled so poorly.
I hope that your accused brother is innocent, and I pray with everything in me that these terrifying events did not take place. However, if he is guilty, he needs to be held accountable for his actions.
Lambda Chi Alpha does not deserve to have their name dragged through the mud because of the alleged actions of one brother... yet, by wearing letter shirts together one day after the news was released, you are all the ones dragging your own name through the mud, and the rest of us are simply watching you do it.
I am reaching out to you because I don't want this to happen. I want your fraternity to be held in high esteem, as well as the entire greek community. I am not anti-chop; I am not anti-fraternity man. I am anti-rape culture, and whether it was intentional or not, the actions of your brothers today have contributed to it.
I trust that you will be able to make things right, and earn back the respect for Lambda Chi Alpha that I and many others once had. I beg you to be aware of the impact you are making on this campus, and I beg you to turn it into a positive, welcoming impact. I wish the Zeta Theta Zeta gentlemen of Lambda Chi Alpha peace and justice throughout this entire process.
Thank you for your time and understanding.