I'm sorry, but I thought the "Freshman Daughter Drop Off" welcome banner hanging from the balcony at an alleged fraternity house near Virginia's Old Dominion University was pretty darned funny.

And that other banner: "Go ahead and drop mom off too…." Ha ha! A third banner read: Rowdy and Fun / Hope Your Baby Girl is Ready for a Good Time…"

Now, other people might not share my sense of humor. They might think that the banners were crude, offensive, and in poor taste–not a nice way to welcome 18-year-old female students arriving on campus with their parents for freshman orientation. That's the position of the national Sigma Nu fraternity, which promptly suspended its Old Dominion chapter pending an investigation into claims that several Sigma Nu members live in the house and were responsible for the banners. Here's Sigma Nu's statement:

The Fraternity condemns the derogatory and demeaning language used on the banners. Such language has no place in our Fraternity or within any caring community, such as that of ODU. Any Fraternity member found to be responsible for this reprehensible display will be held accountable by the Fraternity.

Maybe that was an overreaction, but Sigma Nu was certainly within its rights. It's a private organization, and it's entitled to enforce whatever standards of decorum for its members that it chooses. Greek-letter houses are walking on eggshells these days, thanks to militant anti-frat sentiments among college faculty members and administrators who would love nothing so much as to banish fraternities from campuses for good.

But here are a few  pertinent facts:

The house where the banners were hung is a privately owned residence that is not on the Old Dominion campus.

The content of the banners, while obviously sexual in innuendo ("good time"), mentioned no specific sexual activities, much less any threat of non-consensual sex. There was certainly no obscene language.

And while it's conceivable–barely conceivable–that an 18-year-old girl might react to the banners with apprehension, but her mother? Most 45-year-old women would feel flattered by–or at least get a good laugh out of–attention from 20-year-old men.

The banners were clearly meant as a joke. And according to the Huffington Post, humorous welcome banners of this nature are a fairly common phenomenon. Banners draped from a male-occupied house near Ohio State University read: "Daughter Daycare" and "Dads, We'll Take It From Here." Other signs recently posted near campuses around the country bore such messages as: "Honk if u'r dropping off your daughter" and "#MomsDrinkForFree."

But for administrators at Old Dominion, the banners were yet another sign of a frightening and all-pervasive campus "rape culture." They issued this statement:

Messages like the ones displayed yesterday by a few students on the balcony of their private residence are not and will not be tolerated. The moment University staff became aware of these banners, they worked to have them removed. At ODU, we foster a community of respect and dignity and these messages sickened us….

Ours is a community that works actively to promote bystander intervention and takes a stand denouncing violence against women….

In addition, the University ensures all students receive education on the prevention of sexual harassment and relationship violence. Any student found to have violated the code of conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.

Disciplinary action for banners displayed on private property off campus? As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education makes clear, Old Dominion is a public university, which means the Constitution guarantees its students the rights of free speech and expression. FIRE's Sarah McLaughlin writes:

[U]niversities do a disservice to their students when they censor controversial speech. If nothing else, these banners could serve the very useful purpose of helping students avoid places and people with whom they might rather not associate. Students who find the ideas behind these banners offensive can more easily avoid the people who espouse them when they are literally proclaiming the ideas on their houses.

But that doesn't seem to be the attitude of hysterical university administrators who seem intent on punishing their students not for what they do but for what they say.