Representatives from the University of Maryland's Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association addressed the College Park City Council on Tuesday, following last week's discovery of a noose in a campus fraternity house.
The noose was found in this university's Phi Kappa Tau chapter house at 5 Fraternity Row on April 27, according to University Police, who are investigating the event as a hate bias incident.
Matt Supple, director of the Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life, sent an email May 3 to Greek Life chapter presidents about the incident. He wrote that the noose was found hanging in the kitchen.
IFC President Ross Brannigan spoke before the council about the incident.
"The IFC in no way condones this," said Brannigan, a junior economics major. "It's disheartening that it happened in the first place."
The IFC is working with this university to "mitigate any incidences [like this] from happening in the future," he added.
"Should the investigation conclude that it was a member of the IFC, or the chapter as a whole," he said, "there are procedures in place to hold that chapter or individual accountable."
Mayor Patrick Wojahn thanked Brannigan for addressing the council and said the incident's effects spanned beyond the campus.
"There are many residents who are concerned about what happened," Wojahn said. "We hope that the investigation will be done as quickly and as thoroughly as possible."
In the past five years, six fraternities have lost recognition at this university for incidents including "hazing, alcohol and drug abuse, risk management violations, and failure to comply with University policies and expectations," according to the DFSL website. In almost all cases, the charters were suspended by their international organizations for engaging in behavior that could hurt members or students.
In 2015, a racist email resurfaced that was sent in January 2014 by a former member of this university's Kappa Sigma fraternity chapter. The email used several racial slurs and told fraternity members to avoid inviting black, Indian and Asian women to rush parties "unless they're hot," and included the phrase "f— consent."
University President Wallace Loh said the email expressed "views that are reprehensible to our campus community." Loh called last week's incident "despicable," and condemned the use of a "symbol of violence and hatred for the purpose of intimidating members of our University of Maryland community."
District 3 Councilman Robert Day said he was infuriated when he heard about last week's incident.
"We work very hard here in College Park to address the issue of inclusion and to erase racism," Day said. "Over the last couple of months, we've seen things happen throughout our community that do not represent us in any way, shape or form. We're not going to accept that."
To promote inclusivity in the community, the city council has begun translating public documents to Spanish. During the past election cycle, voting machines featured Spanish language, hearing-impaired and sight-impaired resources.
Day called on the city and this university to work together to address racism in the community by bridging the gap between residents and students, as "we are one community."
Sadie Isakower, PHA vice president of risk management, emphasized the importance of the IFC and PHA in maintaining positive relation with the city.
"The city supports us in a lot of our endeavors," the junior mechanical engineering major said. "We wanted to come and clarify — we are more than ready to handle this."
Day reaffirmed the city's commitment to being as inclusive as possible.
"As we combat the fear and hatred," Day said, "we need to continue to work to uphold our city as a welcoming one."