A college fraternity was suspended on Monday from a Virginia university over the display of banners containing lewd, sexually suggestive messages welcoming freshmen women to campus, fraternity and school officials said.
The Sigma Nu suspension at Old Dominion University in Norfolk is to remain in effect pending the outcome of a university inquiry into the incident, which occurred at a private, off-campus frat house, according to a statement from Brad Beacham, the fraternity's national executive director.
The banners in question, fashioned from bed sheets hung outside the frat house on Friday as new students arrived on campus. Some of the subtler messages they displayed included "Freshman daughter drop-off" and "Go ahead and drop off mom too."
Photos of the banners quickly spread on social media before the bed sheets were taken down.
Beacham said he did not initially believe the fraternity was involved in the incident but later discovered that a few of its members had taken part in the activity.
School officials released a statement on Saturday condemning the display and promising to investigate the incident, which follows a recent spate of high-profile sexual assault cases on college campuses that have placed fraternities under heightened scrutiny.
But Old Dominion isn't the only school where Greek life is raising eyebrows.
The Christian Science Monitor reported last week that following an online backlash, the University of Alabama chapter of the Alpha Phi sorority pulled its recruitment video, which depicts the Alpha Phi experience as a nearly homogeneous sea of blonde hair and designer outfits. But don't see this as a sign that Greek life is about to make its exit from America's colleges.
The video garnered 500,000 views on YouTube before it was taken down after an opinion piece by AL.com writer A.L. Bailey took issue with its content:
It's a parade of white girls and blonde hair dye, coordinated clothing, bikinis and daisy dukes, glitter and kisses, bouncing bodies, euphoric hand-holding and hugging, gratuitous booty shots, and matching aviator sunglasses. It's all so racially and aesthetically homogeneous and forced, so hyper-feminine, so reductive and objectifying, so Stepford Wives: College Edition. It's all so ... unempowering.
But bad press hasn’t affected enrollment in Greek organizations. According to the American Freshman Survey, which interviews more than 100,000 freshmen, their interest in joining a fraternity or sorority is the highest it's been in 15 years.