Kent State sorority members cited for giving racist award

By Carol Biliczky KRT

Kent State University officials have placed the Chi Omega sorority on probation for giving a “blackest member” award to a white woman.

The sorority will not be able to hold social functions while officials investigate the incident, which occurred at a formal dinner-dance at the Student Center Ballroom on Saturday.

The president of Chi Omega’s KSU chapter, marketing major Marisa Stroud, released a written statement to the media apologizing for the award. She declined to comment further or answer questions.

On April 13, three sorority members met with black students and KSU administrators for an hour, according to Sasha Parker, president of Black United Students.

Parker said the Chi Omega members told the group that the award – one of many bestowed that night – was a joke among friends, not a slap at black students.

Parker said she could accept that explanation, noting that the student who received the award brought a black date to the event.

“We don’t believe they’re racist,” she said. “We just think it’s an insensitivity issue.”

Parker, who is studying magazine journalism, said she was “shocked that something like that happened.

“I thought it was blatantly stupid of them to do that.”

The chapter could face disciplinary action as a result of the college administration’s investigation, which could take a couple of days.

Greg Jarvie, dean of students and ombudsman, said the chapter could be suspended or lose its charter.

A spokeswoman for the national Chi Omega sorority, which is headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., said it is developing an “action plan” to prevent future incidents.

“The award was a poor decision by a few individuals and was not chapter-sanctioned,” spokeswoman Jessica de Graffenreid said. “We don’t tolerate anything like this.”