Controversy surrounds Tulane fraternity

Controversy surrounds Tulane fraternity

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Controversy surrounds a Tulane University fraternity, and some students are outraged after its members carried out an annual tradition that referenced Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Members of Kappa Alpha recently built a wall out of sand bags around its fraternity house. But this year, the words "Trump" and "Make America Great Again" we're spray painted on it.

The reference to Trump's controversial stance on immigration was offensive to some who appeared to be tearing down the wall in an online video.

FOX 8 political analyst Mike Sherman said the reaction to the incident shows just how hot and divisive this presidential election has become.

"The fact that we're discussing this right now and that it has created such a visceral reaction is a reflection that people care about this election, who are college students, and to me that's a great thing that people care about this election so much," Sherman said.

A Tulane University spokesperson sent us this statement:

"Every spring the Kappa Alpha (KA) fraternity erects a wall around its chapter house, which is on private property. The leadership of KA's local chapter says that adding Donald Trump's name and slogan to this year's wall was done in order to satirize the candidate's campaign promise, not to show support for him. The wall has since been dismantled."

The National Kappa Alpha Chapter spokesperson, Jesse Lyons, also sent us a statement:

"Our chapter takes KA's values of gentlemanly conduct very seriously. This respect extends to every student of Tulane and every member of the broader community. A comment was written on a makeshift wall on our private property, normally used for a game of capture the flag, to mock the ideologies of a political candidate. This had a unintended negative effect and as such it has been dismantled."

"After learning of the incident yesterday, we have worked closely with Tulane administrators, chapter and alumni leadership, and others to address this both now and in the future," Lyons added.

This message from Dr. Dusty Porter, Tulane's Vice President of Student Affairs, was also sent to the university community Wednesday:

Dear Tulane Community,

Many members of the university community have expressed concern over the words "Trump" and "Make America Great Again" that appeared on a wall of sandbags at the off campus chapter house of the Tulane Kappa Alpha Order (KA) on Thursday, April 7.

Tulane encourages and supports the free exchange of ideas and opinions including any expression of support for or opposition to political candidates. We also understand that while members of KA said they intended the words as satire, it sparked a visceral reaction in the context of a very heated and divisive political season.

The Division of Student affairs is working with students and community members in a comprehensive approach to addressing these issues. The Office of Fraternity and Sorority programs is working with the KA chapter leadership, members and national headquarters. The Office of Multicultural Affairs is working with various multicultural groups and students who feel impacted by this incident.

Furthermore, the Office of Student conduct is reviewing the various reports submitted through the website and are gathering additional information in order to follow up on these reports.

As an institution of higher education and learning, we are committed to exploring ways to facilitate learning opportunities from this incident. We remain committed to our values of free speech and inclusion in a learning environment that thrives on the expression of multiple perspectives and viewpoints. Simultaneously we remain committed to supporting all our students in alleviating anything that detracts from the educational environment.

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