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December 15, 2016

Penn frat struggles with brother's accusation of racism

Universities Fraternities
Carroll - University of Pennsylvania Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

University of Pennsylvania.

A fraternity at the University of Pennsylvania is looking to reconcile internal differences after a member of the chapter posted a flier on campus alleging his own brothers treated him in a racist manner.

The story, reported by The Daily Pennsylvanian, centers on Sigma Nu fraternity brother Victor Arrellano, a Mexican-American sophomore at the College of Arts and Sciences. Last Thursday, Arrellano posted fliers on the campus LOVE sculpture with the heading, "But We're Not a Racist Frat, Right?"

The flier has two columns, each comparing Sigma Nu's alleged actions toward a "Brother of Color" and a "White Brother." Arrellano described being assaulted after expressing concerns about a white brother's role as fraternity pledge master. When he retaliated, Arrellano claims he was called an "affirmative action kid" and a "hood kid." 

The rest of the flier highlights alleged discrepancies in the fraternity's handling of the conflict.

Whereas Arrellano claims he was ordered to addend 5 sessions of the university's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) program to address his "anger issues," the flier states that the white brother was merely restricted from attending two Sigma Nu events.

The white brother in the dispute was not identified beyond an acknowledgement of his previous membership on the staff of The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Contacted Thursday, Penn Infraternity Council president David Moore told PhillyVoice the IFC supports the involvement of Penn's Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, which has helped mediate the disagreement. Moore added he's confident Sigma Nu will reach a positive outcome and that the IFC will remain a resource for the fraternity.

The incident comes about a month after Penn's campus was shaken by a cyberattack against black students on campus. Investigators determined that a GroupMe chat with racially offensive language originated from three individuals in Oklahoma, one of whom had been accepted into Penn before declining to attend the university.

Penn adminstrators have worked to reassure students and restore trust in the wake of this and other incidents over the past few months.

"We must unite as a community to heal, reach out, support and understand one another in such challenging times," the university said in a statement late last month.