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Discipline Given in Float Flap

October 16, 1998

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) _ Outrage over a parade float that mocked gays following the savage beating of a gay college student has cost a sorority its spot on the Colorado State University campus.

CSU officials immediately launched an investigation after a scarecrow that mocked homosexuals appeared on a homecoming parade float Saturday while Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old University of Wyoming student, lay dying in a nearby hospital.

The scarecrow appeared on a float sponsored by Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and Alpha Chi Omega sorority.

On Wednesday, Alpha Chi Omega sorority at CSU surrendered its charter.

``Our chapter members at Colorado State University of Alpha Chi Omega voted to surrender their charter, and the board has voted to accept that charter,″ said Jan Crandall, national president of Indiana-based Alpha Chi Omega.

``Our actions ... reflect Alpha Chi Omega’s intolerance for this kind of behavior,″ Jan Crandall, national president of the sorority, said in a release. ``Our board and membership sends its deepest condolences to the Shepard family.″

At the sorority house Wednesday night, members were carrying boxes out to cars and hugging and comforting one another.

Shepard died Monday in Poudre Valley Hospital from injuries he suffered when he was lured from a Laramie, Wyo., campus hangout, beaten and lashed to a fence. The bicyclist who found him at first mistook him for a scarecrow.

Nicholas Haws, homecoming chairman for Pi Kappa Alpha, said the scarecrow was supposed to be in the uniform of Tulsa University’s Golden Hurricane, Colorado State’s opponents in Saturday’s football game.

He said someone vandalized the float, pinning a sign saying ``I am Gay″ and an anti-gay epithet on the figure. He said the scarecrow was removed but someone placed it back on the float before Saturday’s parade.

Nathan Stanley, president of the Fort Collins chapter of the fraternity, said the appearance of the scarecrow was inadvertent. National fraternity officials condemned the prank.

Disciplinary hearings will begin early next week for as many as 11 fraternity and sorority members.

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