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Student accuses SIUE fraternity of racist, homophobic slurs

Arluan Van Hook said he's been the target of slurs by members of a fraternity at the university

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — A student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville said he's been the target of racial and homophobic slurs by members of a campus fraternity. University officials are now investigating those claims.

Arluan Van Hook, 18, is a sophomore and resident assistant at SIUE. The engineering student said for months his experience at the university has been anything but pleasant.

"I have dealt with racism (and) hazing, and I've witnessed homophobic slurs. And that's not something that I personally stand for," he said.

Van Hook said since March, he's been the target of those incidents by members of a fraternity at the university.

"I've been told all African Americans live on welfare and just off government assistance. I've been called the n-word. (I've also faced) hazing ... I was pulled on, pushed around in the dark woods," Van Hook said.

Van Hook now rarely stays in his dorm room.

"I have not been harmed physically, no, but mentally I'm going to counseling every other week," he said.

Van Hook's mom, Riesa Van Hook, said she's outraged. Last month, her son moved back home to Florissant to live with his parents.

"I want my son to be safe. I want him to finish out his studies. He is thriving at this university," she said.

A spokesperson for SIUE said university officials are investigating Van Hook's claims of racial and homophobic slurs from members of the campus fraternity.

In a statement, Megan Wieser said "... an investigation is underway regarding a hazing claim. This disrespectful behavior is unacceptable."

University officials also said since becoming aware of the incident, campus police provided police escorts for Van Hook and issued a no-contact order between him and all members of the fraternity.

The Van Hook family's attorney, Mike Pendergast, said the fraternity's behavior can't "go by unaddressed.

On Thursday, Van Hook, his parents and Pendergast will meet with university officials.

"I just want those guys to be held accountable. ... It's changed my life," Van Hook said.

The fraternity has been placed on a cease and desist by SIUE.

The SIUE chapter president referred all questions to the university.