The Louisiana State University chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon will end its "rich tradition" of hanging offensive game day banners, after hanging ones that mocked Michael Sam's sexuality, the Aurora, Colorado, shooting massacre and the 1970 killing of four Kent State University students by the National Guard, all without any sanction by the university.
On Sept. 6, Delta Kappa Epsilon's Zeta Zeta chapter displayed a banner above its entrance reading, "Michael isn't the Only Sam Getting the D Tonight," ahead of the game between LSU and Sam Houston State University. Michael Sam, a former University of Missouri football player currently playing with the Dallas Cowboys, came out as openly gay this year.
— Belle Es You (@SouthernbeLLSU) September 6, 2014
After the student newspaper reported on the banner, DKE met with LSU Asociate Dean of Students and Director of Greek Life Angela Guillory. The frat then apologized in a letter to LSU President and Chancellor Dr. F. King Alexander, calling the signs one of the fraternity's "rich traditions":
It was never any member of our fraternity’s intention to offend others. Zeta Zeta is a chapter full of rich traditions, one of them being our game day banners. Though satire is sometimes the goal, crossing the line and causing offense to others is never the intent. We truly apologize to you and all other members of the LSU community who have had to deal with the effects of this banner.
The DKE house further said in the letter, provided to The Huffington Post by a university spokesperson, that it would refrain from displaying such banners "indefinitely" and will "abide by the pre-approval requirement of all signs by our alumni advisors for the remainder of the semester."
There are no current plans for university sanctions of DKE, Ernest G. Ballard, LSU director of media relations, told HuffPost, because the fraternity was not found to have violated the school's honor code.
The Michael Sam banner happened one year after the fraternity caught blowback for a banner that read, "Getting Massacred Is Nothing New to Kent St," before playing Kent State University.
In 2012, the same frat put up a banner reading, "Like the Batman premiere, we're starting off with a bang!" It was, of course, a reference to the massacre that year in Aurora, Colorado where 12 people were killed and 58 wounded during the premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises." And in 2011, the DKE house displayed a banner stating "The only winner from Florida is Casey Anthony," referring to the woman found not guilty of murdering her child, Caylee.
Following the Kent State banner in September 2013, the university said DKE had apologized to the Ohio university. LSU further noted that it and the national fraternity were working with the chapter to help prevent this situation from happening again, and the university believed students in DKE understood "the gravity of their actions."
— Steve Caparotta (@SteveWAFB) September 16, 2013
Spectrum, an LSU LGBT organization, said the Michael Sam sign created an "unwelcoming environment" for gay students on campus.
The national DKE organization did not respond to request for comment, but did issue a statement last week saying it was embarrassed by the LSU chapter.
The DKE headquarters further said that it "condemns in the strongest possible terms the tasteless and offensive content" of the Michael Sam banner and said it would soon discipline the Zeta Zeta chapter.