Sorority on probation for racially-themed award

KENT, Ohio - A Kent State University sorority was placed on probation and could face disciplinary action for giving a white woman an award for "blackest" member, university officials said.

The Chi Omega sorority gave out the award Saturday at a formal dinner-dance on the school's northeast Ohio campus.

The 60-member chapter could be suspended or lose its charter, said Greg Jarvie, dean of students and ombudsman.

Chapter president Marisa Stroud apologized in a statement. The sorority will not be permitted to host social functions during the university's investigation.

Three members met with black students and university administrators for an hour Thursday, said Sasha Parker, president of Black United Students. The sorority members told the group that the award was one of many given out at the event and was meant to be a joke.

Parker, who said she could accept their explanation, noted that the woman who received the award brought a date who was black.

"We don't believe they're racist," she said. "We just think it's an insensitivity issue."

Sorority members also were to meet with other student groups.

The national Chi Omega sorority, based in Memphis, Tenn., is developing a plan to prevent future problems, spokeswoman Jessica de Graffenreid said.

"The award was a poor decision by a few individuals and was not chapter-sanctioned," she said. "We don't tolerate anything like this."

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.