SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Missouri State University fraternity has suspended a pledge accused of harassing a transgender woman.
Officials with the school and the national headquarters of Sigma Nu Fraternity say the Monday incident is under investigation.
Alora Lemalu says she met the fraternity pledge through an online dating app and he requested her phone number, The Springfield News-Leader (http://sgfnow.co/2c7EzLo ) reports. Lemalu says soon after he contacted her Monday, she received a barrage of messages from different numbers that were sexual in nature.
“The first thing I felt was unsafe. It’s a very emotional feeling to know you let someone in your bubble and they turned around and gave my number to others,” Lemalu said. “It was definitely very violating. They were treating me like a personal joke. It was very saddening and very insulting.”
Lemalu says she believes the pledge, who hasn’t been identified, gave out her number to other people, and she was targeted for being transgender. She says her online dating profile clearly states that she is transgender.
Lemalu wrote about the incident online, where it came to the attention of the school’s Sigma Nu chapter president, Luke Wiesboeck. According to Lemalu, Wiesboeck reached out to her and asked if they could talk.
Wiesboeck notified the fraternity’s national headquarters, the university and its Title IX coordinator. Wiesboeck said he was unable to comment on the matter because fraternity policy requires him to refer questions to the national headquarters.
Brad Beacham, executive director of the Sigma Nu Fraternity, said he is “actively investigating” the allegations and the pledge’s candidacy for the fraternity was immediately suspended pending further review.
Missouri State University President Clif Smart praised the fraternity’s response in a blog post on the school’s website on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, the actions of the student did not reflect the inclusiveness or respect that we have been trying to develop in our students,” he wrote. “The student bullied and humiliated the victim. Such actions are both disappointing and unacceptable.”
Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com