By Sylvia Cunningham
“To the women of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Lambda Tau Chapter…”
Tonight, an apology.
“To all of the individuals affected by this, and to the Greek community….we would like to express a sincere and heartfelt apology for our actions on September 29, 2014.”
In a nearly two hour long forum held at the University of Connecticut ITE building, students – affiliated with Greek organizations and not – stood up to voice their opinions and concerns about Greek Life, injustice and the events that had transpired in the recent weeks.
Christopher Ackell, the elected vice president of Pi Kappa Alpha or PIKE read a letter he said was written collectively by his brothers.
“We cannot change the past or take back our actions but can and will implement change for the better,” Ackell said.
After Ackell left the podium and another person took the stage, he went to the back of the lecture hall. There he handed Brittney Yancy, a PhD candidate at UConn and one of the women who spoke out at the town meeting on Nov. 10, a bouquet of flowers.
Yancy told WHUS News that she hoped PIKE’s statement was sincere and it will be the fraternity’s next actions that will be important in showing how they intend to follow through with what they said they will do.
During the forum, one student, who is unaffiliated, said rehashing the same points again and again is pointless, figuring out what to do next is crucial.
“Whether people knew about the situation or they didn’t, I think it’s our responsibility to think now: now that you know, what are you going to do about it?”
Kassandra Pugliese, a member of Alpha Phi, said that while her heart goes out to the members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, she said people should step back and remember there are two sides to every story.
“Instead of slandering some organizations and slandering the police and the UConn administration, I believe we can really come together as a whole and move forward with this,” Pugliese said.
Orlando Valentin Jr., president of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. said it’s not PIKE as a whole but the individuals involved in the incident must be punished.
“I have friends in PIKE who I know would not let that happen if they were there that night,” Valentin said.
Jerlon Chiu, president of Pi Delta Psi said the administration needs to address these issues head-on, and sending out a few e-mails to the student body is not enough.
“In a time of crisis, the last thing we want to hear is ‘I do not have an answer,’” Chiu said.
Midway through the forum Crystal Torraco, a director on the Greek Community Affairs Board, broke the rhythm of speeches and gave everyone in the room a simple task.
“Right now what I’m literally asking every single person is to introduce yourself – to go outside your comfort zone – and introduce yourself to one other person in this room. Your name, your major, whatever. Whatever your affiliation, if you’re not affiliated, literally two minutes,” Torraco paused. “Go, do it!”
Torraco said instead of talking about what should be done, she wanted to take a direct action. She said it’s the little things that make a difference. More such forums are expected to take place in the future.