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‘Who Wants to Do That?’: Southern Illinois University Offers Police Escort to Black College Student Repeatedly Harassed While Pledging to Fraternity

Arluan Van Hook, 19, is a sophomore at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, who says he “can’t allow another African-American to be sold these false advertisements and lies,” referencing the University’s claim to be inclusive and anti-racist.

Van Hook, an engineering major, attempted to get more involved on campus in February and attempted joining the mostly white Kappa Sigma fraternity. Van Hook said the fraternity’s members initially appeared welcoming and upstanding, but as time went on they “changed drastically,” he claims.

For about two months, as Van Hook was pledging to the fraternity, he says some members of the fraternity constantly made racist, harassing, and threatening comments toward him and others looking to join Kappa Sigma.

“I was told, all African-Americans live off of government assistance and welfare. … There’s an instance I was called a thug by a Caucasian, no one wants you here … [and] Big Red called me a n—-r.”

The sophomore planned to bring the mounting issues to university officials and began storing screenshots and videos of the insults, but when it was time for a meeting with the vice chancellor, he feels his concerns were not taken seriously enough as it took longer than 20 days to begin addressing his concerns.

AN SIUE spokeswoman, Megan Wieser, sent Atlanta Black Star a statement on the matter which says: “The SIUE Office of Equal Opportunity, Access and Title IX Coordination and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs are actively investigating reported incidents of racial and homophobic slurs from members of a campus fraternity toward a fellow student, and a hazing claim.” 

Wieser also disputes Van Hook’s claims the university didn’t act swiftly enough.
“Immediate action was taken, within less than 24 hours of receiving the complaint on the evening of Sunday, October 17. 

University Police has provided police escorts for the student and the university issued a no contact order between the student and all members of the fraternity. The fraternity was placed on a cease and desist, and options were provided to adjust on-campus living arrangements for the victim.”

“They’re only moving more promptly now because so many news outlets have picked up on this,” Van Hook said in response to actions taken by the university.

The 19-year-old is undergoing counseling and now suffers from anxiety and depression because of the experience at the school. He no longer lives on campus and now lives at home with his parents in neighboring St. Louis, Missouri, about 27 miles away from campus.

“When I don’t have to be on campus, I’m not there because who wants to be stuck in a dorm room. Yeah, the university offered a police escort, but again, like I mentioned, who wants to do that? Who wants to continue to get in the back seat of a police car, especially when you’re not a criminal,” said Van Hook.

Despite the upheaval he’s experienced this school year, Van Hook plans to remain at the school to finish his construction program for his engineering degree.

Atlanta Black Star reached out to Kappa Sigma Chapter contact for comment on the allegations but did not hear back as of this initial report.

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