Troy officials invited students to a town hall meeting, a discussion-based forum hosted the Student Government Association (SGA) and Troy’s NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) chapter, where they could voice their concerns about the Farmhouse video that has been circulating the news.
The video, which first circulated on Snapchat, showed the FarmHouse chapter president wearing a Trump mask and “Make America Great Again Hat.” In the video taken at a party on Halloween night, where he is seen yelling for two other FH members, dressed as border patrol agents, to capture another student, who was dressed to portray a Mexican immigrant.
On Friday, Nov. 3 at noon in the Trojan Ballrooms, an estimated 225 concerned students, faculty and professors were in attendance at the town hall meeting.
SGA President Ashli Morris informed the audience that the FH members involved would not be in attendance due to threats made against them, although some FH members were among the audience.
The discussion was student-led.
“In the dialogues I’ve had with other people — even about, ‘why is this a big deal?’ It’s symptomatic of something larger: a racial problem,” said Justin Lewis, a senior political science major from Gainesville, Virginia, who spoke during the forum. “This isn’t a one-time incident in Greek life.
“This is Greek culture … this isn’t about costumes, it’s about the bigger picture and the racism behind the costumes.”
Jenna Oden, a junior broadcast journalism major from Fairhope and a “proud FarmHouse girlfriend,” was at the Halloween party the night the video was disseminated.
She defended some of the brothers of the fraternity, saying that some brothers in the house thought the video wasn’t a good idea.
She also had a message for those sending death threats: “Don’t respond to hate with hate. Go about this in a loving way to make them understand why this was wrong.”
Emily Banks, a sophomore marketing major from Berry, shared a personal story about her international friend asking Banks to walk her to her car around noon because she wasn’t comfortable walking alone.
“… I realized that as an international student, she no longer felt comfortable in a place that was supposed to be her home away from home where she knew no one,” Banks said.
Katie Curington, a junior English language arts education major from Apollo Beach, Florida, said she was glad that the forum sparked a necessary discussion, but felt like the lack of attendance by involved Farmhouse members marred the purpose of the meeting.
“If their lack of attendance was from the fear of violence, then a solution could have been having one or two police officers present,” Curington said. “In all, the meeting was productive, but not as much as it should have been.”
Troy University’s chapter of the NAACP shared its statement about the incident during the forum:
“Members of the Farmhouse Fraternity on the Troy University campus irrefutably contradicted the moral law as well as their specific objective to allow the spirit of congeniality to reign by perpetuation a stereotype against the Hispanic community in a most offensive manner,” the group said in the statement.
“Why is this significant? Troy University prides itself on being an international institution on which stands as a beacon for fellowship and education among the diverse array of ethnicities which comprise our student body.”
“We refuse to remain passive as events like this and others such have tried to blot the beautiful canvas of cultural harmony that should be present here at Troy University.”
According to a source, FH student officials have scheduled a meeting with members of Troy’s NAACP later this week.
Matt Fulton, a senior music industry major from Saint Petersburg, Florida, used the forum as an opportunity to suggest the re-naming of street and building named after George Wallace and Bibb Graves, respectively. He said the racist names surrounding Troy University contradict its proclaimed duty to the international community to support diversity.
The actions of FH are currently under investigation by the the Dean of Student Services Herbert Reeves and the Office of Student Involvement and the national Farmhouse Fraternity organization has been notified.
Farmhouse provided the following apology to the university:
“We sincerely apologize for the actions that occurred during an event at the fraternity house on Oct. 31. These actions fall well short of the standards we expect of our members, and the individuals responsible will face appropriate disciplinary action.
We deeply regret the hurt caused to members of our Troy community, and we are working closely with University officials to ensure something like this does not happen again. We will learn from this and take steps to regain the trust of the University and community.”
The Brothers of FarmHouse at TROY