September 17, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Former Ole Miss student’s allegations unsubstantiated by investigation
Former Ole Miss student Graeme Harris was sentenced today to six months in prison for desecrating a statue of James Meredith on the University of Mississippi campus.
“The behavior exhibited by Mr. Harris is the antithesis of what our Fraternity stands for and requires of its members,” said SigEp Marketing and Communications Director Beaux Carriere in a statement to the New York Times on Thursday. In allegations made in his sentencing memorandum, Harris paints a picture that was not substantiated by the Fraternity’s investigation. Members of the chapter attempted to intervene and advised the students not to go through with their plan.
The action of chapter leadership in dealing with Harris was swift and unequivocal. After chapter leaders learned about Harris’s desecration of the James Meredith statue, he was expelled from the Fraternity and turned over to investigating authorities.
Following the incident, the Fraternity conducted an investigation into the operations of the chapter to better understand the quality of the experience being provided at Ole Miss. Sigma Phi Epsilon is committed to serving as a partner in higher education, and has no tolerance for behavior that detracts from the academic missions of host campuses. The findings of the investigation, illustrated in the Fraternity’s April 17, 2014, statement, led Sigma Phi Epsilon’s National Board of Directors to vote to close the Ole Miss chapter.
Responding to news about the act of desecration, SigEp’s CEO Brian Warren said, “It is embarrassing that these men had previously identified with our Fraternity. SigEp as a national Fraternity has championed racial equality and issues on diversity since 1959 when it became the first national fraternity to invite members of all races, creeds and religions to join its membership. For this to occur in 2014 is an insult to the legacy of James Meredith, The University of Mississippi community, and the SigEp alumni who fought for racial equality in the late 1950s.”
“We won’t allow the actions of a few men to undermine the more than five decades of leadership this Fraternity has demonstrated in the fight for racial equality and diversity on our college campuses,” said Warren.