University of Mississippi administrators have shut down its campus chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon after three fraternity members were accused of tying a noose around the neck of a statue of the school's first black student.
The frat will remain closed for the time being, pending the outcome of an investigation that will include agents with the FBI, campus authorities said, the Associated Press reported.
Somebody also draped a Georgia state flag — the pre-2003 version that included a prominent Confederate flag emblem — across the statue's face, according to AP.
The statue is of James Meredith, a 1962 enrollee who sparked violent outcry from anti-integration protesters that fought against federal authorities. Two were killed in the clashes and numerous others injured.
The three students were all from Georgia, but their names weren't released, AP reported. But they were kicked out of the chapter and disciplinary proceedings are pending, said Ole Miss spokesman Tom Eppes.
Authorities also clarified that the finding of the noose on the statue was not the reason the frat was closed, but rather the jumping point for campus officials to look further into the facility's activities. And what they found — a pattern of underage drinking and ongoing hazing problems — led to the closure, they said.
"We are disappointed that a pattern of bad behavior and serious, inexcusable hazing occurred within the chapter," Dean of Students Sparky Reardon said in a statement. "Periodic reports from and meetings with local alumni and national headquarters led us to believe that the chapter was improving."
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