After a two-year lull, large gameday banners are back on display at the DKE house.
At the LSU vs. Georgia game on Oct. 13, the LSU Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity hung a banner reading, “What do Mike + Asia have in common? Dawg 4 Dinner.” While there were no immediate consequences for DKE, or even widespread awareness of the issue, it’s been slowly making waves.
Chemical engineering senior Megan Le posted pictures of DKE’s most recent banner, along with some of their past banners on Facebook, gaining more than 200 views. Outcry over the banner has since resulted in a letter with more than 100 signatures sent to LSU President F. King Alexander and Director of Greek Life Angela Guillory.
Le said the banner was deeply disheartening.
“I’m not a sensitive person to this stuff, but to know that you have an organization on campus that can spew hate at you, or negative comments, with no repercussions, and do it over and over again because they have money— it just brings a bad taste in your mouth,” Le said.
The LSU chapter of DKE has repeatedly made the news with their offensive banners. The fraternity issued a formal apology in 2013 for a banner about the Kent State shootings, the weekend after they made a banner about the chemical gas attacks in Syria.
DKE agreed to refrain from displaying banners indefinitely in 2014, after displaying a banner mocking Michael Sam, the first openly gay NFL player. Two years later, DKE’s banner, “Oh say can you see Kaepernick sits when he pees,” resulted in a letter from a coalition of nine student organizations, including the Black Student Union, Justice Together and Spectrum, calling for the fraternity to be reprimanded by the dean.
Law students Vy Tran and Quoc-Huu Nguyen said the banner the day of the Georgia game was distasteful. Tran said when she was younger, people would pick on her using that racial slur, so seeing it on a banner bothered her. Nguyen, on the other hand, was glad DKE wasn’t trying to hide what they thought.
“When I see something like that, that lets me know as a person not to involve myself with those types of people,” Nguyen said. “The world will have those types of people. You can’t get better unless you see what’s worse, and there’s no reason why we should shelter people from seeing. But I think those people expose themselves to everyone that’s surrounding them.”
Nguyen, Tran and other members of the Society for Asian Lawyers used the banner as a learning tool, turning it into a group discussion about offensive slurs and how the First Amendment right to free speech applies to hate speech, in an event called “Where One Hears Free Speech, Another Hears Hate Speech.”
Tran said she didn’t think the fraternity should be censored, because that would just foster resentment, and they still wouldn’t see the error of their ways. However, other people are demanding change.
LGBTQ+ project graduate coordinator Ethan Brown is calling for oversight of the DKE banners. Brown, along with his classmate, Christy Walker, decided to make the DKE banners into an installation project after seeing Le’s Facebook post.
“It’s the lack of respect for other people that are different from you,” Brown said. “They’re not saying terrible, awful, outright racist things, they’re just saying things that are bigoted and kind of insensitive. They teeter on that line, and it just makes people uncomfortable. It makes campus not a positive, constructive place for the people they’re talking about.”
Walker and Brown projected images of the banners on the side of the LSU Student Union for about two hours on Oct. 30, gathering decent crowds. The two also began circulating a letter demanding oversight in the display of gameday banners, getting about 100 signatures and sent it to Alexander and Guillory on Nov. 6.
While Brown hasn’t gotten any responses yet, he doesn’t plan on letting the issue drop.
“We don’t want to take anything away, we just want the University to uphold the commitment to community, the diversity statement that they’re always professing,” Brown said. “They’re always talking about how diverse the incoming class is, all of their commitments to being inclusive, but then they continue to let this happen.”
Le also expressed doubt in LSU’s diversity pledge and commitment to an inclusive community, looking at all of DKE’s prominently displayed banners.
“Is it a safe environment?” Le said.
DKE could not be reached for comment on this story.