Due to the discovery of an “offensive” photo by the Penn State Panhellenic Council, one sorority at Penn State is under investigation by the PHC's executive board, according to a statement released by the board.
Jessica Riccardi, the president of the Nu Gamma chapter of Chi Omega, confirmed that her sorority under investigation by releasing an apology.
"Our chapter of Chi Omega sincerely apologizes for portraying inappropriate and untrue stereotypes. The picture in question does not support any of Chi Omega’s values or reflect what the organization aspires to be," Riccardi (junior-marketing) said.
A photo circulated on Tumblr Monday night depicting members of the Chi Omega chapter at Penn State dressed in ponchos and sombreros. In the photo, members of the sorority are holding two signs — one that reads “Will mow lawn for weed + beer” and another that reads “I don’t cut grass I smoke it.”
Riccardi said that all other questions regarding the matter should be directed to the national Chi Omega headquarters.
"The Penn State Panhellenic Council recognizes the offensive nature of the photo and is therefore taking the matter very seriously,” the Panhellenic Council executive board said in a statement released today. “We are addressing the situation immediately with the members of the chapter in conjunction with their national headquarters.”
After the Panhellenic Council spoke with the national sorority of the chapter in question, they were advised not to comment on any specific chapter until the national headquarters released a statement of its own, PHC Vice President for Communications Amanda Cillo said.
Cillo (senior-public relations) said that the council first received reports of a photo via email about one day before they obtained the photo. Once they obtained the photo, the Panhellenic executive board began looking into the details of the situation.
The Panhellenic Council executive board continued on in its statement to say that they are disappointed with the chapter.
“The Penn State Panhellenic Council does not condone any form of derogatory behavior from any of our members. Our Council and all its members strive to hold ourselves to a high standard and are disappointed by any failure to meet these expectations,” the board said in the statement.
Julianne Robbins, outgoing PHC president, said the national headquarters will be releasing a statement soon.
Whitney Heckathorne, director of communications for Chi Omega, said in a statement the national headquarters is working with Penn State’s Panhellenic Council about remedying the situation with the Nu Gamma chapter.
“Currently, the national organization is working with Penn State’s local Panhellenic on educational directives for our Nu Gamma Chapter, particularly regarding appropriate sensitivity to others and bystander behavior,” Heckathorne wrote in an email.
Chi Omega headquarters does not approve of the behavior of the Nu Gamma chapter, according to the statement from Heckathorne.
“Chi Omega believes that dignity, self-esteem and respect are inalienable rights of each individual and neither endorses nor condones behavior that violates our organization’s policy on human dignity or the basic tenets of our Sisterhood,” Heckathorne wrote.
Heckathorne continued on about the values a Chi Omega member is expected to uphold.
“The Fraternity believes that personal degradation has no place in our organization, even if such behavior is meant facetiously or in jest,” wrote Heckathorne in an email. “Chi Omega expects its members to share and promote the belief that self-respect, esteem, and a respect for others are necessary ingredients for healthy relationships.”