By Kiersten Newnam
During move-in week, the Eta Chi chapter of Sigma Nu fraternity at ODU draped banners with sexually suggestive content, directed toward freshmen women, over the balcony of a private off-campus residence. VWC’s Iota Beta chapter of the fraternity responded with its own banners, displayed on Aug. 25.
One of the ODU banners read, “Rowdy and fun; hope your baby girl is ready for a good time…” A second banner said, “freshman daughter drop-off,” and a third one suggested that families “go ahead and drop mom off too.”
These ODU banners have received national news coverage and have caused outrage throughout the community, especially in the national Sigma Nu headquarters and in their brother chapter at VWC.
“We’re all upset how this one fraternity, just by hanging some stupid sheets, can ruin the image that our fraternity holds so dear,” said Nick Snyder, president of Wesleyan’s Iota Beta chapter.
The Iota Beta chapter defended women and the values of the Sigma Nu fraternity by displaying their own banners, which read “Rowdy and fun? Nah, respect and fidelity” and “Honor and
“It started as a joke, like, ‘We should hang up our own banners,’ then I was like ‘Walmart is open 24/7 guys, let’s do this,’” Snyder said. “Most people kind of associate our two chapters because we’re so close.”
Overall, the Iota Beta chapter is receiving positive responses, especially from freshmen on campus.
“Here at Wesleyan, I feel like our chapter’s response was great. It lets the girls here know that the guys still have our back. But at ODU, especially since it’s a larger school, I feel like women will need to watch their back and be more cautious,” said Francesca Lanuza, a freshman at VWC. “I don’t feel like parents would be sending their children off happily, considering the thought of how guys could potentially treat their daughters and what kinds of situations they could be put in,”
“I think the banners here are trying to give off the proper message instead of what ODU did,” another freshman, D’Angelo John said. “Their message was scary, and our fraternity is saying that’s not how things are supposed to be.”
“I wouldn’t feel safe as a freshman girl, if I saw that at ODU. I would probably want to go somewhere else or just commute. And if I were a parent I would want to protect my child,” John said.
Nick Snyder said that even though his fraternity has been greatly affected by the banners at ODU, freshmen women and their families have much more to deal with. “They’re sending a message to freshmen girls that they might not be safe there. They’re also sending a message to the families that when you drop your daughter off you don’t know what’s going to happen. Especially if there’s men like that, or I should call them ‘boys,’ if there’s boys like that on their campus,” Snyder said.
The Eta Chi chapter of Sigma Nu at ODU has been temporarily suspended while the national headquarters of the fraternity investigates who is responsible for the banners.
While headquarters reached out to the Iota Beta chapter praising them, unnamed members of the chapter’s alumni had mixed feelings about their response.
“The alumni responses have been kind of mixed. Some of them said we were attacking the Eta Chi chapter, but that was never the intent of our actions. We are defending our values, not ever attacking anyone,” Snyder said. “But for the majority, the alumni has been proud to say they are Iota Betas because we are taking a stand.”
ODU is not the first fraternity to display such banners. Fraternities across the country from Ohio State University, West Virginia University and University of Michigan have been sighted displaying similar signs. The Iota Beta chapter’s attempt to make a difference has caused some waves, but their president remains firm in their stance on the issue. “We wanted to show that not every fraternity is how the media wants to paint us to be. We need to live up to the standards that we say we do. Any fraternity, they live by a set of values that are admirable. We all need to abide by them, respect women and actively take steps to end the rape culture that is sadly engraved into Greek life,” Snyder said. “We are who we say we are. When we say that we abide by love, honor and truth, that’s what we do.”