Letter to greeks apologizes for brash speaker

The audience was not prepared for some comments.

by Kaitlin Walker

A greek community event featuring a motivational speaker who is a registered sex offender upset some attendees, prompting the greek leadership to issue an official apology.

In an email sent out to the community Friday Oct. 7, the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils apologized to anyone offended by the presentation by Adam Ritz.

The two organizations invited Ritz as part of their ongoing efforts to promote good decision-making. The Oct. 3 event was mandatory to 75 percent of members of IFC and PHC fraternities and sororities.

âÄúWhen we invited Adam to come speak, we in no way intended to upset anyone or be insensitive toward survivors of sexual assault or those close to them,âÄù the email said.

Ritz was convicted in May 2004 of the sexual battery of a 22-year-old woman. He served a six-month prison sentence, a year of community corrections and spent a year on probation.

Now, Ritz speaks to athletic teams and greek organizations across the country to promote alcohol awareness. According to his site, after viewing his presentation, âÄúthere will be an absolute understanding that the concept of invincibility does not exist.âÄù

âÄúThe reason we brought Adam in is because we knew his methods were related to decision-making, especially making good decisions regarding alcohol, and his methods regarding that was great,âÄù PHC president Meg McMurray said. âÄúI think people could take something away from that.âÄù

Most recently, he worked with the football programs at the universities of Nebraska, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Arkansas.

âÄúHis speeches highlight that no one is invincible,âÄù IFC President Joe Sandbulte said. âÄúA lot of people walked away thinking, âÄòSome of my actions are high-risk actions.âÄô âÄù

Sandbulte also works as marketing director for the Minnesota Daily âÄî a position outside of the division in control of editorial content.

However, some in the crowd of hundreds of greek community members balked at his past and at how he addressed it in his presentation.

âÄúI donâÄôt think we were prepared for just the manner in which he was going to be addressing his past,âÄù McMurray said. âÄúIf we had, we would have approached the speaker differently.âÄù

The IFC did not discuss the speaker with chapter presidents before hiring Ritz, which was a big mistake, Sandbulte said.

âÄúIt wasnâÄôt so much the comments he made, but the fact that the chapter presidents werenâÄôt notified of his background,âÄù Sandbulte said.

McMurray said Sandbulte had seen Ritz speak before, but the two speeches were very different.

âÄúAdamâÄôs presence upset people,âÄù Sandbulte said. âÄúWe just wanted to let the greek community know that we had made a judgment error in not letting the chapters know. We should have had the Aurora Center there.âÄù

The letter stated that if after talking to chapter presidents the councils still wanted to invite Ritz, the attendance requirements would have been diminished and advocates from the Aurora Center would have been present.

âÄúIf this presentation did stir up emotions regarding sexual violence perpetrated against you or a loved one, we encourage you to contact the Aurora Center,âÄù the letter said.

Sandbulte said that the greek community will continue to work with the Aurora Center in the future to educate members on preventing sexual assault.