A University of Pennsylvania freshman and Pi Kappa Alpha member has been suspended after using offensive language in a fraternity listserv email thread, the Daily Pennsylvanian reported.
The issue reportedly started when a former Pi Kappa Alpha, or Pike, member and UPenn senior, Curtis Harris, sent an email to the group's listserv, which consists of current members and some alumni. Harris voiced complaints over the members' use of racial slurs in the April 21 message.
"To put it in perspective saying the n-word [the term that is used negatively towards the African ethnicity] or the f-word [the term that is used negatively towards the LGBT community] is just as bad as using a term that the Nazi’s would have created for Jews," Harris wrote in the email, according to the Daily Pennsylvanian. "I hate to get that deep, but I’m f—ing sick of the bigotry."
Harris also submitted his request to deactivate from the fraternity the same day.
While some members responded in kind, agreeing with Harris' frustration, others responded with jokes. One alumnus used the word "n—f—," to which another alumnus asked if someone could "use it in a sentence?"
The freshman, whose identity is not being released, responded to the email: "Sweetgreen employs n—f— — the gay, black guy that served me lunch."
"The fact that they responded to my email, which was asking for more sensitive language, in such a joking and derogatory way was not only offensive, but it just really shows that they don't get what I was even trying to say," Harris told the Daily Pennsylvanian after submitting a request to deactivate his association with the fraternity.
The freshman reportedly sent text messages to Harris and an apology email to the listserv on April 23, stating regret for using offensive language, and promising to apologize to everyone at the Pike chapter house, which is located at 3916 Spruce St.
"In the last email I had overstepped boundaries in a poor attempt to make a rude joke," he wrote in the apology email. "I have great respect for and did not mean any offense to the black or LGBT community … I believe that Curtis and others who have tried to admonish the careless usage of words such as the N word and the F word have the right vision of Pike in mind."
He later said in an interview with the Daily Pennsylvanian that his derogatory email was a response to a request.
"Me, being brand-new to the listserv just responded to his request about using the term in a sentence," the freshman said in an interview. "I was just like, 'OK, is this how things are done?' I did not mean any offensive at all to the African-American or the LGBT community and that was addressed in the apology email."
This isn't the first time Penn's Greek life has come under fire for perceived racism.
In 2014, Phi Delta Theta's Christmas card surfaced, which featured a blow-up black sex doll and portraits of Confederate generals.
Earlier that year, sorority Chi Omega and fraternity Beta Theta Pi held a "gangsta"-themed party on campus.