Fraternity members reportedly involved with antisemitic acts, false accusations
Recent accusations and antisemitic occurrences that took place in Fraternity and Sorority Life last week spread across social media platforms and has caused disappointment among the USF community.
Reports surfaced of a Jewish Pi Kappa Phi member having a swastika drawn on his body by the pledgemaster without consent as a part of initiation activities, according to USF Hillel Program Director Sylvie Feinsmith.
She said that while the fraternity responsible has been revealed, the students involved have not been officially or publicly identified.
“Everybody’s passing the buck saying, ‘Oh, it wasn’t us,’” Feinsmith said. “Although there are a lot of people who are corroborating the story.”
Following this act, an anonymous student, believed to be a member of the fraternity, posed as the pledgemaster and posted a hateful and antisemitic message Feb. 16 to GreekRank, a website for fraternity and sorority members to post and rank other organizations.
In a universitywide email sent Tuesday by Dean of Students Danielle McDonald, she said Student Conduct and Ethical Development are investigating both occurrences and will address any problematic behaviors.
Feinsmith said USF Hillel is working closely with the university to address the situation.
A different occurrence involved members of Pi Kappa Phi accusing a member of Sigma Kappa’s Lambda Zeta Chapter of racist behavior.
Upon hearing this, the sorority issued an apology statement via Instagram on Feb. 12, stating the member had been suspended. It was later discovered the claims made by the fraternity were fabricated and false, so the sorority issued another Instagram statement Monday to clarify this.
“We have received physical documentation that the entirety of the post was fabricated,” the post said. “Pi Kappa Phi has apologized for casting doubt on our sister’s character, and we look forward to the results of their internal judicial system.”
Pi Kappa Phi also issued an apology via Instagram on Saturday to the sorority member involved as well as the USF community.
The email sent by McDonald addressed this issue as well, requesting students withhold judgements or actions toward anyone accused due to the large cloud of misinformation surrounding the situation.
“Due to the anonymous nature of the social media site, and as more information continues to come to light, some individuals have been wrongly accused,” she said.
“I implore the community to allow the student conduct process to progress before making judgements on individuals or organizations. Acts of retaliation will not be tolerated.”
Feinsmith said she hopes the students involved can learn and grow from this incident as opposed to defending their harmful actions.
“At this point, these individuals involved are welcome to come to Hillel and sit down and have a conversation with me,” she said. “Let me explain to you why it is actually harmful. They have the opportunity to better themselves, and I hope they take it.”
Elaborating on the ideas of betterment and growth, Feinsmith said the ultimate goal of the investigation is to protect Jewish students and learn from these incidents to improve USF as a whole.
“That’s our goal here. [At] USF Hillel, we’re not in this to admonish someone,” she said. “We’re in this to ensure that our Jewish students feel safe. And frankly, to improve upon the overall culture.”