May 2, 2011

IFC Officer Resigns After Offending Community Members at Greek Event

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Following the recommendation of Associate Dean of Students Travis Apgar, Rohan Siddhanti ’12 resigned from his post as vice president of programming for the Interfraternity Council Monday after he made crude gestures on stage at Greek Freak, a Tri-Council event held at the State Theatre April 23.

Siddhanti dropped his pants and, wearing boxers, made a sexually-suggestive motion in front of an audience that included local middle school and high school students. He also imitated the performances of several Multicultural Greek Letter Council chapters, including historically black and Latino step dances and calls, in a manner MGLC members found offensive, according to Apgar.

Siddhanti apologized for the incident.

“I am deeply sorry for my actions and the unwanted stress, tension and excess burden that I caused the MGLC community,” Siddhanti said in a statement on Monday. “I resigned today so as to serve the best interests of the IFC and the MGLC community … The responsibility for what happened that weekend rests squarely on my shoulders, and the IFC should not have to bear any of that burden.”

IFC President Dan Freshman ’12 said he believes Siddhanti’s decision came after an extended period of reflection.

“I think over the past few days Rohan has been contemplating this a bit more and starting to think about the greater implications here for the system and the messages it sent to have him on board with some pretty bad behavior,” Freshman said.

Andrew Martinez ’12, president of the MGLC, said that he was “shocked” by Siddhanti’s behavior and said that there “was definitely anger” among members of the MGLC.

“[Siddhanti] made a gesture of masturbating — at that point I was upset — everybody had their jaw drop,” Martinez said, adding that the MGLC, which spearheaded the event, is now working to make amends with the members of the high school and middle school organizations in attendance, such as the College Discovery Program.

He added that representatives of the State Theatre, the venue for the annual event, notified the Tri-Council that it may not house the Greek Freak in the future if this year’s attendees complain about Siddhanti’s actions.

Although Martinez said he appreciated a promise by Siddhanti to work with the MGLC in the future, he said the MGLC was upset by Siddhanti’s behavior and the consequences of his actions.

“He came to us saying, ‘what can I do to fix this?’ and he did come up with suggestions and we found some of them useful … Even though he wants to do that, it’s still not okay. The [MGLC] general body was still angry,” Martinez said.

Still, Martinez said Siddhanti’s imitations of the traditional step-dances and handshakes were borne out of ignorance, not malice.

“Rohan did not know he was offending our organizations,” Martinez said. “Because of what happened, we are moving forward in learning more about our prospective councils and making sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Siddhanti initially offered his resignation to the IFC general council on Saturday, Freshman said. However, the general council, which is composed of chapter presidents and representatives, voted to keep him on the board, Freshman said.

On Sunday, Apgar called for Siddhanti to resign his post. Apgar did not return a phone call Monday night.

“My personal thoughts are that his behavior was really inappropriate,” Apgar said Sunday. “It seems to me that when you make a mistake of that magnitude, you should just hold yourself accountable and make the right decision.”

Apgar said he worried about the repercussions of Siddhanti’s behavior at an event of 200 to 300 people designed to encourage local middle school and high school students to pursue higher education.

“It’s really a shame that anybody would walk away thinking of his behavior as opposed to the quality of the event overall,” Apgar said.

Janet Nwaukoni ’12, vice president of programming for MGLC, said Siddhanti had worked closely on the event and that his actions were “not a huge problem because we proceeded with the rest of the show.”

“The attention was on people doing backflips off the stage and the amazing things people were doing … I know [Siddhanti] works very hard and is very dedicated,” Nwaukoni said.

Original Author: Peter Jacobs