STAFF EDITORIAL: Do better

WSU should have a stronger response to the racially charged rhetoric against Sigma Lambda Beta

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STAFF EDITORIAL: Do better

An event rooted in Greek unity, a capture-the-flag tournament to raise money for the Fundamental Learning Center, quickly became divisive Saturday. 

While the details surrounding the event remain unclear, a member of Beta Theta Pi reportedly told his brothers to “link arms and build a wall” while interacting with members of Sigma Lambda Beta, a Latino-based fraternity.

Beta Theta Pi released an apology and said the offending member intends to deliver an “in-person apology.” In response to these allegations, the university handed out a promise of “diversity training” for all Greek chapters.

Wichita State University is the most diverse university in Kansas — and they don’t let you forget it. For a university that routinely tokenizes and uses its diverse student population as a key marketing tactic, you’d expect WSU to have a stronger response to allegations of hateful speech against minority students on campus.

“No matter how the remark may have been intended, it was badly received and is not consistent with the norms of civility we want in our university and society,” reads the WSU statement.

The university response spends too much time equivocating on the intention of the offender without doing enough to condemn derogatory rhetoric.

By brushing off hateful words, the university shifted the focus of the scandal to Greek unity — the importance of maintaining strong relationships within fraternity and sorority life.

Diversity training should have already been a requirement for all student organizations, but it’s not. Diversity training is not a punishment — it’s a preemptive, necessary first step. 

Using diversity training retroactively defeats the purpose of the training itself. Diversity training is meant to prevent events such as the one that allegedly occurred Saturday. Furthermore, using it as “punishment” sends the message that diversity training is a penalty or a sanction rather than an opportunity to learn and grow.

The idea that we need to “further educate” our students with these trainings insinuates that those being “punished” didn’t know any better — that they were naive to the consequences of their words and actions.

We live in a political climate that unfortunately promotes divisive and dehumanizing rhetoric. It fuels the hate that we see against people of color. It fuels acts of violence in our community. 

This type of dangerous rhetoric leads to hate crimes in Wichita — like when Petra Restaurant was burned down in 2017. It leads to racially motivated mass shootings in our country, like the shooting in El Paso, Texas, that killed 22 people. Racially charged rhetoric isn’t just bigoted — it kills.

Students at this university need to realize that the words they say have real-world consequences. Derogatory language has no place at Wichita State, whether or not its intent is malicious. Students deserve to feel safe here.

People of color strengthen Wichita State, the Wichita community, Kansas and the United States. Our diversity not only makes us great — it makes us strong. Our diverse community is what made the U.S. a bastion of freedom in the first place.

The Sunflower applauds the Greek community for condemning the divisive rhetoric that was used Saturday. Now, to prevent similar incidents in the future, it’s time for the administration to follow suit and stand against the incident in stronger terms.

It’s up to us and future generations to prevent this from becoming the norm. We need to do better — all of us need to do better. We owe it to our students of color, we owe it to Sigma Lambda Beta, and we owe it to any individual who has been on the receiving end of this hateful rhetoric. Do better.