UNL, fraternity investigate Confederate flag incident

2012-04-21T09:00:00Z 2012-04-21T14:15:04Z UNL, fraternity investigate Confederate flag incidentBy KEVIN ABOUREZK / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com

As she prepared to leave work Monday, Rebecca Carr heard people chanting outside and looked out to see nearly 30 young men dressed in camouflage walking down the sidewalk.

Several of the men sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," while one carried a Confederate flag.

Now, University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials and leaders for the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, which hosted the march, are investigating the incident.

"It is possible that there was a perfectly reasonable and appropriate reason for the demonstration I witnessed yesterday, but the combination of a Confederate flag and a group of yelling, fatigue-clad young, white men is, at a minimum, a reflection of extremely bad judgment," Carr wrote in a letter to fraternity leaders. "I was thoroughly disgusted by this behavior."

Ryan D. Caldwell, alumni chapter adviser, said the fraternity is investigating the incident and likely will expel the student who carried the Confederate flag.

"This individual was immediately reprimanded, his flag taken and destroyed, and asked to leave," Caldwell said. "The incident lasted less than five minutes."

Juan Franco, vice chancellor of student affairs, said judicial affairs is investigating the incident but offered no further comment. Carr, a senior analyst for UNL, works in Seaton Hall, near 16th and Vine streets. Delta Tau Delta's house is at 16th and U streets.

Caldwell said the Monday event was a fundraiser for military veterans called M*A*S*H, a homage to the popular 1970s and 1980s television series.

"Throughout the decades, this event has raised tens of thousands of dollars," Caldwell said. "The event is announced to campus by the fraternity members dressing in military fatigues and going through campus marching and chanting patriotic drills and yells. It is a very popular tradition on campus."

Jim Russell, executive vice president for the Delta Tau Delta national office in Indiana, said the national fraternity also is investigating the incident.

"We are in touch with both the chapter leadership and the chapter adviser and are taking the allegations seriously," he said. "That said, we're not at this time prepared to say where the investigation is or what outcomes might come out of it."

Carr, who created a video of the march, said she also saw fraternity members carrying an American flag and possibly a POW-MIA flag. One member also appeared to be wearing a straw Chinese hat.

She said she met with two of the fraternity's student leaders Friday and was pleased to learn how the fraternity was dealing with the incident.

"The flag should never have been there in the first place, but I think they handled it appropriately," she said.

​Reach Kevin Abourezk at 402-473-7225 or kabourezk@journalstar.com.

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