ATHENS, Ga. – A Georgia university banned hoop skirts this week in response to a racist fraternity video that caused an uproar at the University of Oklahoma recently.
The University of Georgia’s Student Affairs officials met with fraternity and sorority leaders this week to discuss the perceptions of Greek life after a video surfaced from a Sigma Alpha Epsilon party at the University of Oklahoma that featured members chanting about lynching and exclusion of black students from the fraternity, Jacksonville.com reports.
Two SAE members were expelled from OU over the incident, which caused a social media firestorm and prompted activists to picket the home of one student, who lives in Texas.
In the video, SAE members are heard chanting “there will never be a ni**** in SAE.”
UGa officials met with members of the university’s chapter of SAE and Kappa Alpha, both of which have deep ties to the Old South. Students and administrators discussed appropriate attire for Kappa Alpha’s “Old South Week” and SAE’s “Magnolia Ball,” events at which students have been known to dress in costumes that include hoop skirts and other period wear, according to the new site.
“The discussion was about more than dress, but about how to present yourself, and dress was a part of that,” Victor Wilson, vice president for student affairs, told Jacksonville.com.
He said students decided for themselves that hoop skirts send the wrong message.
Ashley Merkel, president of the student Panhellenic Council, issued an emailed statement Tuesday with Alex Bosse, Interfraternity Council president.
“A standard aspect of event planning for Greek organizations is that costuming for events must be evaluated as to its appropriateness,” the email read. “The student leadership, staff and advisors agree that Antebellum hoop skirts are not appropriate in the context of some events. We will continue to review costuming and themes for future events to ensure their appropriateness for our organizations.”
Tom Jackson, UGa’s vice president of public affairs, told My Fox Atlanta hoop skirts are “associated with the symbolic past in the minds of some students and we want everybody to be comfortable here.”
Fashion merchandise student Rebecca Watkins, however, thinks the issue with hoop skirts is silly.
“It’s not directly related to slavery and the confederacy and all that other stuff …,” she told the news site, “… it’s just a historical fashion.”
Wilson believes the hoop skirt is far more dangerous than a historical fashion, and likened the Old South attire to Confederate solider uniforms that were worn by fraternity members on special occasions until around 2006, when the college ended that tradition.
“We’ve made a lot of progress,” Wilson said. “This is just one more step. We applaud our students for being courageous and making a tough call.”
According to Jacksonville.com, SAE and KA have been a fixture in American universities since the mid-1800s.
“SAE was founded before the Civil War at the University of Alabama in 1856,” the news site reports.
“Kappa Alpha was founded in late 1865 at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. Its national office is in Mulberry Hill in Lexington, where Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee slept when he became president of Washington and Lee. Lee did not found the Kappa Alpha Order, but the group calls the gentlemanly general its ‘spiritual founder.’”