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University Of Mississippi Investigates Frat For Sexual Harassment During A Charity Event

"Which Sigma Chi would [you] go down on?" frat members asked women in front of a large crowd of their classmates.

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Officials at University of Mississippi — usually called "Ole Miss" — are investigating the Sigma Chi fraternity after members were captured on video making sexual comments to sorority sisters in front of a large crowd at their annual "Derby Days" charity event.

"What's your nickname?" a fraternity member from the Ole Miss's Sigma Chi chapter can be heard asking a sorority member named Bobbie Jo over a microphone — to which she answered "Bobbie Shmurda," referring to a rapper, a member of her sorority told BuzzFeed News.

"We're gonna go ahead and say it's BJ," another fraternity brother said into the microphone.

The large audience laughed as they asked a follow up question: "What's your fondest memory of the Sigma Chi basement?" The men again ignore her answer and repeat, "We're gonna go ahead and go with her nickname is BJ."

A classmate of both the fraternity and sorority members there, Abby Michelle Bruce, wrote a Facebook post saying she was upset by the "humiliation" and "objectification" her fellow classmates and said the fraternity members' remarks were part of a long series of sexual comments.

"Tonight, my eyes watered up as I watched women be humiliated in the name of 'philanthropy,'" Bruce wrote, saying sorority members competing to be Queen of Derby Day were asked questions like, "Which Sigma Chi would [you] go down on?" "What type of sausage would [you] prefer: linked or sigma chi," and, “Is it true that a [Delta Gamma] goes down faster than an anchor?” among others. Those comments were not caught on the video.

"Women are scared to speak out about these things. One because they don't know where to turn, and two because they are afraid that they will not have the support of their chapter," Bruce wrote. "It is time to change that."

Her post, written on Saturday morning, was shared over 1,200 times by Monday. Bruce did not immediately return BuzzFeed News' request for comment.

The same day Bruce wrote her post, Ole Miss released a statement saying they were of the incident and representatives from their Title IX office — tasked with upholding a federal gender equity law that dictates schools which receive federal funding must investigate all claims of sexual misconduct — were investigating the allegations. They confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the investigation was still underway by Monday, and would not comment further.

“The university takes the report alleging a hostile environment very seriously,” said Rebecca Bressler, director of Equal Opportunity is quoted in the statement. “It is important that members of our community feel safe and supported – actions that undermine that goal will not be tolerated.”

On Sunday the president of Ole Miss' Sigma Chi chapter, Clay Wooley, apologized for the behavior of his fraternity brothers on the school's news station.

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"The focus of this event is charity and unfortunately it seems the focus has gotten away from that recently," Wooly said. "[Those comments] shouldn't have been spoken and we did not do enough to stop it, and that's on us."

Wooly added that Sigma Chi has "started a dialogue" with sororities in order to make Derby Days "better for everyone going forward," because the amount of money and blood donations for charity they collected at the event, Wooly said, is "too important to push aside because of one really, really bad event."

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CORRECTION

Bobbie Jo said her nickname was "Bobbie Shmurda." An earlier version of this article misstated her nickname.


Ema O'Connor is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Ema O'Connor at ema.oconnor@buzzfeed.com.

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