Salem

Willamette University frat suspended over Facebook comments

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Willamette University has suspended the Sigma Chi fraternity during an investigation of Facebook comments that degraded women, and the Salem chapter has voted to expel 12 members.

The scandal erupted over the weekend after comments from a private Facebook group of fraternity members were posted online. They included conversations that used sexually explicit and degrading language to describe women students and faculty members, the Statesman Journal reported.

The national Sigma Chi organization supports the school's action, announced Wednesday. Executive director Mike Dunn said it also supports the Salem chapter's decision to oust 12 members.

"We try to encourage the chapter to take on the responsibility and own up to everything, which they have 100 percent," Dunn said.

Spokesman Adam Torgerson said Wednesday the university's investigation should be completed this summer, and Sigma Chi's privileges and activities are suspended until then.

The fraternity posted an apology on Facebook saying the remarks didn't reflect the organization's goals and ideas.

A few of the fraternity members have apologized since the blog's publication, said Emily Burke, the target of disparaging comments from a former boyfriend and others.

"It's obviously not going to make up for what happened, but it's nice to see they are making an effort to personally make things right," Burke said.

Students met privately with university faculty members Wednesday to air their grievances and discuss next steps, which include a larger conversation about campus culture and how Willamette handles reports of sexual assault.

"I think right now the biggest thing is trying to make sure that this is taken seriously," sophomore Sandra Schaefer said. "We want this to start a discussion rather than having one big blowout."