LSU is investigating a complaint that a fraternity member shouted racial slurs against three people of Asian heritage during a football game last month, though Tuesday the school backed off its earlier suggestions that something indeed happened in the student section as the Tigers played Georgia Southern.
Emails obtained by The Advocate on Monday, pursuant to a public records request, show that LSU administrators scheduled a visit with leaders of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity last week after exchanging emails labeled "Meeting regarding Saturday's incident." In a statement to The Reveille, the campus newspaper, LSU said Friday "the language and words used in this incident do not reflect who we are as a university ..."
But Tuesday, LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said the school is not acknowledging that any incident happened at all. He said the statement to The Reveille, and a followup statement to NBC News on Monday, was intended only to express the university's criticism of what was alleged to have occurred. He also would not say whether the university had taken any disciplinary action against the student, citing federal student privacy laws.
The controversy started when LSU student Christy Nguyen tweeted that a male student yelled "Get the f*** out ching-chongs" at her and two other students. Nguyen and the two other students with her are of Vietnamese descent and natives of Baton Rouge. Nguyen posted a picture of the alleged offending student and asked Twitter for help to identify him. Commentators soon responded with the name of a student, who is also a TKE fraternity member.
“LSU has never expressed any doubt that the situation took place to us,” Nguyen told The Advocate.
A week ago, Ballard told The Advocate it was aware of Nguyen's tweet but couldn't comment on it. Friday, it told The Reveille that administrators were meeting with the students involved. The email exchange noted TKE's president would "provide an update on what we’ve done at the chapter level and explain the role of nationals so far.”
LSU Dean of Students Mari Fuentes-Martin, who provided the statement to The Reveille, referred questions to Ballard.
Calls to TKE on Tuesday were referred to Alex D. Baker, chief information officer for the national office of the fraternity in Indianapolis. Baker on Wednesday declined comment.
Staff writers Andrea Gallo and Jackie DeRobertis contributed to this report.