Millikin allegedly threatens frats with sanctions for face-painting

Members of a fraternity at Millikin University will allegedly no longer be allowed to paint their faces during an annual recruitment event because the school’s office of inclusion deemed the tradition “cultural appropriation.”

“Members of [Tau Kappa Epsilon] are prohibited from wearing black and red paint, wigs/and or clothing items that mimic or depict an ethnicity or culture. Failure to comply with the expectation will result in immediate removal from the event, and additional student conduct sanctions,” warns an email allegedly sent to the president of TKE, whose name was removed from the email for purposes of anonymity.

Traditionally, members of TKE and four other fraternities at Millikin paint their faces with each organization’s respective colors as part of an annual recruitment event. Some students, however, apparently complained about the event this year, alleging that face-painting is disrespectful to certain cultures and ethnicities.

Consequently, the president of TKE reportedly received a letter from Millikin’s Assistant Director of Inclusion and Student Engagement, Nicole Rowlett, who stated that certain fraternities will not be allowed to paint their faces during the event because it violates the school’s commitment to “inclusiveness.”

“Millikin University is committed to fostering a community of inclusiveness that respects difference amongst all students,” she wrote in the letter, a copy of which was provided to Campus Reform by a fraternity member who wishes to remain anonymous. “It is my hope that the men of [Tau Kappa Epsilon] utilize this as an educational opportunity to explore the concept of intent vs. impact with regard to cultural appropriation.”

Campus Reform reached out to Rowlett, as well as Director of Inclusion Molly Berry and Dean of Student Development Raphaella Prange, both of whom were copied on the letter, but multiple phone calls and emails went unanswered. Efforts to contact the school’s office of media relations likewise went unanswered.

In an effort to ascertain additional information about the letter, Campus Reform also sought comment from the president and vice president of Millikin’s TKE chapter; the leaders of Millikin’s Alpha Tau Omega chapter, another fraternity allegedly affected by the policy change; and Millikin’s InterFraternity Council, which oversees all five fraternities at the school. None responded despite multiple entreaties.

In the absence of a denial from any of the principals involved, Campus Reform will continue to follow this story and report any additional information that may come to light.

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