In an email sent to all UF sororities and fraternities Monday, UF President Bernie Machen condemned the behavior of an Alpha Tau Omega (ΑΤΩ) brother who shouted racial and sexist slurs at a black woman on Sept. 26.
“I am disappointed and ashamed that members of an organization aimed at creating the leaders of tomorrow exhibited this kind of ignorance, hateful behavior and complacency,” Machen wrote about the confrontation.
The woman, who declined to comment and asked to remain anonymous, reported the incident to the Dean of Students’ Office on Sept. 27.
Jen Day Shaw, associate vice president and dean of students, said the office investigated the situation to see if any laws were broken or violations were made to the student code of conduct.
The office found no crime had been committed and did not file a report with police.
“There’s no violation of the law here,” Shaw said. “It’s not a hate crime, it’s a bias incident.”
After finding out about the incident from a faculty member who wrote about it in an email listserv, Machen decided to address the Greek community and express his disapproval with the fraternity brother’s behavior.
“President Machen was told about the situation and obviously was disgusted by what happened,” Shaw said. “When something like this happens, it personally makes him angry.”
In response to the incident, representatives from the Multicultural and Diversity Affairs and Sorority and Fraternity Affairs held a mandatory educational workshop with the fraternity. The meeting focused on the history of racial and sexual slurs and their consequences.
“When freedom of speech is part of the equation, always use more free speech to combat it,” Shaw said.
Wynn Smiley, Chief Executive Officer of the ATO National Fraternity, said the chapter will not be punished because it was “not involved in the event.”
“This was an individual action,” he said. “The chapter dealt effectively with the member who said the insults, and the chapter worked with the university and with ATO in investigating the incident and on apologizing on behalf of the member.”
Smiley said the brother remains suspended from participating in fraternity events since the incident.
Albie Kaminsky, a 22-year-old UF finance senior and president of the Interfraternity Council, said the council will monitor and check in with the fraternity to make sure a similar incident “doesn’t happen again.”
“There was nothing in our constitution or our bylaws to formally charge the organization,” he said. “However, we did recognize it as a serious offense and something that needs to be seriously addressed.”
On Monday, the fraternity sent an apology letter through the Greek email listserv.
“There is no excuse or explanation for this behavior, and it does not reflect the ideals or principles of our brotherhood,” the fraternity wrote. “We recognize that while only one of our members was involved, this incident reflects poorly on our entire fraternity.”
A version of this story ran on page 1 on 10/29/2013 under the headline "UF fraternity apologizes after Machen’s reprimand"
UF’s chapter of Alpha Tau Omega received a letter from UF President Bernie Machen about an incident in front of the fraternity house.