The Simpsonian

Outrage, apologies and investigation follow derogatory Snapchat comments

While the investigation continues, individuals involved plan to "talk things out" in person

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Outrage, apologies and investigation follow derogatory Snapchat comments

by Randy Paulson, Editor-in-Chief

Screenshots of a conversation between members of Simpson College’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity were shared widely on Twitter and Facebook on May 23. The images showed the SAE members commenting about the appearance and sexuality of a female Simpson student.

“I am disappointed but not surprised about the comments made about me in the SAE group chat,” senior Bobbi Fogle said in an email to The Simpsonian. “I am a queer woman with strong opinions and that often times upsets people.”

Fogle referred to a tweet she had posted earlier that evening in which she shared an article about former Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Nate Boulton, who suspended his campaign after three women accused him of sexual misconduct.

In the tweet, she said, “And of course, he’s gonna stay in the race. Honestly, I excepted (sic) as much from a former SAE.”

 

Later that evening, Simpson SAE members began contacting Fogle through Twitter and Snapchat, asking her to delete the tweet, which she refused to do. She later received a message containing screenshots of the Snapchat group conversation in which SAE members made derogatory comments about her. She posted the screenshots to Twitter shortly afterward.

Backlash against the SAE members soon followed.

Fogle’s tweet of the images has been favorited over 100 times and retweeted 22 times. Other Simpson students, mainly women, replied to Fogle’s tweet to express support for her and outrage toward the fraternity members.

Molly Monk, a 2016 Simpson alumna, tweeted, “Hurt, but not surprised that this is how SAE members STILL think about queer women at Simpson.”

 

Some Simpson students also shared images of the screenshots on Facebook, where they likewise received considerable attention.

Grace Peck, who graduated in April, posted the images on Facebook and said, “Hateful and disgusting language from Simpson College’s SAE chapter, ‘True Gentlemen.’ Attacking a fellow female classmate for her looks and her sexuality, because you don’t like what she has to say? They are fitting into a stereotype that they pretend to be offended by.”

On one of the shared Facebook posts of the images, Simpson College’s official page commented, “We have forwarded this on to the appropriate personnel on campus and are currently investigating the matter further.”

President of Simpson SAE, Pierce Carey, emailed a statement to The Simpsonian the following morning, saying he was “disheartened to see the way a few brothers of the fraternity spoke towards another member of our Simpson College campus community.”

Carey has reached out to Fogle, the SAE members involved, Simpson College campus officials and officials at SAE nationals and is working to resolve the issue.

The Simpsonian reached out to the SAE members involved in the Snapchat conversation for comment but only received a response from one of the members involved.

“I cannot apologize enough for my disrespectful and rude words,” he said in an email to The Simpsonian. “I reacted in haste after reading some of Bobbi’s posts. I thought I was venting privately, but once words are in print, you cannot take them back no matter how much you wish you could. Reflecting on what I wrote, using the word ugly only reflected how ugly my words were. I am working to make the changes to become a better person in the words I use and on how I respond. I am very grateful that after communicating with Bobbi, she gave me the chance to apologize, and she even suggested we meet for coffee to discuss, which we have made plans to do, and will work for this to be a positive change.”

The Simpsonian also reached out to the fraternity’s national director of communications, Johnny Sao.

Sao shared a statement that read: “The Fraternity Service Center of Sigma Alpha Epsilon is aware of an inappropriate social media conversation involving members of our chapter at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. We continue to work with campus administrators and chapter leaders to gain more information. Appropriate sanctions will follow the investigation.”

The statement did not specify what kind of sanctions or punishments will follow the investigation.

It went on to say:

“Sigma Alpha Epsilon is committed to the safety and well-being of our members and those with whom they interact. When incidents are brought to the headquarters’ attention, we take immediate action and will not hesitate to impose disciplinary actions on any member or chapter that fails to follow our stringent guidelines and exceptions. We maintain a zero-tolerance policy for any behavior that deviates from our policies, mission, and creed. Our goal is to provide meaningful and beneficial experience for all of our members and the communities in which they live.”

Fogle said the SAE member sent her a personal apology message on Facebook following the incident and confirmed that the two of them had planned to meet this week “to further talk things out.”

This is not the first time in her life Fogle said she has come across homophobic and sexist insults.

“Growing up in rural Iowa, I heard all sorts of homophobic and misogynistic insults and slurs,” she said. “At this point in my life, I am comfortable with who I am, thus it takes more than just a few harsh words to stop me.”

However, she said when she was younger, these words would likely have hurt much more. “LGBTQ youth already struggle enough, and these comments could have been detrimental to a person who was just starting to accept themselves,” she said.

The problem went beyond just the words of the SAE members, Fogle said. To her, the problem is with the culture that underlies the words.

“There exists a culture of homophobia and misogyny, and those biases were obviously brought out by a time of heightened emotion,” she said. “If I wouldn’t have posted the screenshots, I can guarantee you that nothing would have been done. This is the type of culture that breeds hatred of different groups and causes LGBTQ youth to struggle.”

Although Sao said in his statement that disciplinary action will likely be taken against the SAE members involved, Fogle said she wants this incident “to be a time for education.”

“The culture has been exposed, and this is a good time to understand the meaning behind the words said and why it is not OK to say them,” Fogle said. “This is a time to educate ourselves and confront our own biases and attitudes.”

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