Protesters Accuse Frats of Racism, Seek Suspensions

Last week, students protested outside of Baldwin Dining Hall, four hours a day, for three days in a row. The protestors said that a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house used homophobic and racist slurs in an altercation that took place on Oct. 29 (Photo by Bella Bakeman).

Content Warning: This article contains content regarding racism, homophobia and sexism. While all slurs are censored, some profanities appear as they were said. Reader discretion is advised. 

Editor’s Note – 5:28 pm Monday Nov. 7: The original publication of this article at 9:00 am on Monday, Nov. 7 quoted Chase Potter as saying “Going forward, ATO will have no part in IFC organizations.” This statement is untrue and has been clarified. Matthew Dellapietro also said that he had heard racist language from multiple members of ATO. This statement has been removed for accuracy. Clarification was also made to information given by Dellapietro. 

For additional coverage, read Jackson Cooney’s statement here.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week, a group of students gathered outside of Baldwin Hall to protest Albion’s Beta Omicron chapter of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. The protesters allege that ATO member Jackson Cooney, Novi senior, used racist, homophobic and sexist language during an altercation on the night of Saturday, Oct. 29. 

For three consecutive days, four hours each day, the students protested.

Detroit senior, Alyssa Andrews, who organized the demonstrations, spoke about her experience through a megaphone at the first protest.

“Me and a group of friends were looking for a party to go to. We saw that ATO had an invite-only party going on. My friend Nathan Norris texted me about it, inviting me and my group of friends. After leaving Delt-Sig we walk over to ATO to be greeted by my friend Nathan at the door. He lets us in; however two of my friends were caught at the door,” Andrews said.

One of those friends was Dion Barnes, Houston sophomore. Barnes said that Andrews came to let him in the house, before getting into a disagreement with Cooney.  

“He was like ‘you can get the fuck out too, bitch,’” Barnes said.

Andrews speaks at the first protest through a megaphone. “We will be treated like human beings,” Andrews said (Photo by Bella Bakeman).

Andrews continued her story through the megaphone.

“While I’m trying to get my two friends, I’m approached by two white males, one of those males’ name is Jackson Cooney,” Andrews said. “He called me a bitch, spat in my face and then decided to have his frat boys escort me out by putting their hands underneath my shoulders and tossing me out the door.”

According to Barnes, Master Hill, Chicago junior, attempted to stop them from physically removing her, which led to a physical altercation.

Hill said that he got into a fistfight with three members of the house. He said Cooney, the same member of ATO that Andrews alleges yelled expletives at her, punched him in the face and called him an anti-gay slur as well as the N-word.

Barnes and Andrews both confirmed that Hill was called the N-word.

Barnes, who was involved in the altercation, speaks through a megaphone (Photo by Bella Bakeman).

Matthew Dellapietro, Sarasota, Florida senior and Delta Tau Delta risk management chair was the first fraternity member to speak at the protest. 

In a conversation after speaking on the steps, Dellapietro said that Cooney bragged to him about the incidents of Oct. 29.

“He came bragging about what he did. He basically said he kicked them out for being gay. He told them to get off his porch because they’re f-slurs” Dellapietro said. “And there’s no need for that. Just be respectful.”

Chase Potter, Saranac senior and Delta Tau Delta’s diversity and inclusion chair also gave a statement. He denounced the behavior of ATO as a member of the Interfraternity Council.

Members of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity listen to Andrews’ concerns (Photo by Bella Bakeman).

 “I speak on behalf of the IFC: we do not stand for this, and we would like to apologize,” Potter said. He said that IFC will be investigating the situation. 

Interfraternity Council Advisor Ward Mullens said that following the altercation on Oct. 29, someone filed a bias report to Albion College. Mullens said the allegations are currently being reviewed and investigated. 

“There are allegations being made about events related to the party this past weekend. They are related to one of the fraternities,” Mullens said. “There have been no criminal reports. These are being reported to the bias reporting system.”

Mullens said that Ken Snyder, director of campus safety, will be leading the investigation and gathering statements from people who were involved.  

Cathy Cole, Albion College’s spokesperson, said the college is hearing the protestors’ concerns. Cole said that Interim President Joe Calvaruso met with the protesters on Nov. 3, prior to the second demonstration.

“The college supports students’ First Amendment rights and appreciates when students protest. We want to give voice to their concerns and certainly listen to them,” Cole said. 

Cole said that as a result of the incident, ATO cannot host parties until further notice.

“ATO was put on social probation by the Dean of Students,” Cole said.

On Nov. 3, the second day of the protests, a list of demands was introduced in print.

Protesters created a list of demands prior to the first protest. On Nov. 3 flyers were spread around the campus with the six demands titled “Student Demands” (Photo illustration by Bella Bakeman).

There are six demands. Andrews said that she wants Albion’s campus to be inclusive and for people to feel like they matter. She is hopeful her demands will be met and the individuals affected will receive justice.

 “After the incident that happened on Oct. 29, it kind of fueled the emotions that I had when I first experienced racism. I went back to the anger and determination to make things right,” Andrews said. “That’s why I’m here protesting, and we won’t stop until our demands are met.”

Mullens shared similar sentiments of accountability, while also addressing how Albion College is handling the situation. He said that various organizations, including the Interfraternity Council, the national chapter of ATO and campus safety are looking into the incidents of Oct. 29.

“You have to hold people accountable. Whether it’s an individual or student organization, you have to hold accountability for that,” Mullens said. 

Editor’s note: The Pleiad reached out to Jackson Cooney for comment via email on Sunday night, Nov. 6. Cooney did not respond in time for publication.

About Bella Bakeman 6 Articles
Bella Bakeman is a sophomore from Berkley, Michigan. She is double-majoring in English and Political Science with a minor in Education. Bella can be found with a camera around her neck, notebook in hand and pen in her pocket. Contact Bella via email at INB10@albion.edu.

1 Comment

  1. In Spring 2021, a student was caught writing racist and anti-Semitic graffiti. Albion said “we will seek criminal charges against those involved,” and there would be “potential for expulsion.” While the school said the student was suspended for the spring semester, were they expelled? Or are they still suspended? OR are they back on campus? Did they seek criminal charges like they promised? It’s been a year and a half. What’s going on with that?

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