Washburn University fraternity suspended over text messages

Phi Delta Theta International said early Thursday it suspended the Washburn chapter as it investigates the messages. (Jonathan Carter/KCTV5 News)

A Washburn University fraternity has been suspended while its national leadership investigates sexually vulgar text messages between members on the Topeka campus, fraternity and school officials said.

Phi Delta Theta International said Thursday it suspended the Washburn chapter as it investigates the messages, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

University spokesman Patrick Early said the Office of Student Life was interviewing fraternity members.

Messages obtained by the Capital-Journal document several exchanges conducted over the group texting app GroupMe. One exchange includes the statement: "Women are equal and deserve respect…just kidding, they should (expletive)." In another, someone writes: "Remember, women are objects." Another suggests a 12-year-old is old enough for sex, saying “She's 12. She's a woman.”

Phi Delta Theta International said in a statement that the messages were "inappropriate."

"We are very concerned by the messages reviewed thus far. Phi Delta Theta is a values-based organization and any behavior or statement contrary to those values is subject to significant action," said Sean Wagner, associate executive vice president.

Jessica Barraclough, the director of student activities and Greek life for Washburn, say the fraternity cannot host any events or participate in any university events during the suspension but members can still live at the house.

“I was disturbed and certainly alarmed and surprised that some of those things were said by my brothers,” said Fraternity Chapter President Jake Gregg. “The chapter is looking at any disciplinary sanctions that we need to put into place, as are the national fraternity and Washburn, I believe.”

Dustin Struble, fraternity chapter adviser, became aware of the investigation on Wednesday evening.

"Much like any investigation, we need to do fact finding. We need to establish what happened, what violations of fraternity policy there were, if there were any violations of fraternity policy," Struble said.

Dr. Jerry Fawler is the president of Washburn University. For him, the scandal smacks at the integrity of everyone involved.

“For a few people to do something like that is just disrespectful to the university, disrespectful to women, it's disrespectful to themselves. I'd like to be there when they explain this to their parents,” he said.

Copyright 2015 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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