Strings of misconduct cases at university fraternal organizations have popped up across the country over the past months. Schools like Texas State and the Ohio State University have suspended Greek life activities due to misconduct; Bowling Green State University is no exception to this misbehavior.
In December, Christopher H. Bullins, the Dean of Students, released an official letter announcing that the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity had been suspended effective this semester. The fraternity has ceased all activities and will not be eligible for reinstatement until the fall of 2020.
Drew Dutson, the former President of Phi Kappa Psi, believes the fraternity was unfairly treated during the University investigation.
“During the process, we were lead to believe that if we would plead guilty to the charges we would be able to . . . fix the problems,” Dutson said. “Unfortunately, when we accepted the guilty plea with the intentions to start to work to fix the problems, we were pushed to a conduct hearing without the chance of pleading our case.”
Although Phi Kappa Psi’s case is complete, some individuals are still under investigation by the University to determine whether or not they are personally responsible for violating the Student Code of Conduct.
Despite these incidents, Bullins said student safety comes first.
“Myself and my colleagues are always keeping our fingers on the pulse of campus culture and evaluating situations and circumstances that could put our students at risk or harm, because student safety is our number one priority,” Bullins said.
Bullins and his collaborators want to educate student organizations about the dangers of hazing. New standards have been put into place for fraternity and sorority organizations in order to achieve that goal.
“In the past, we always required every semester that chapter leaders submit a hazing compliance form,” Bullins said.
The form requires signatures from the University president, new member educator and the chapter advisor. The form requirement will remain but will be accompanied by an educational video that addresses hazing.
Bullins said the checks and requirements are necessary measures to ensure events, like the one concerning Phi Kappa Psi, don’t happen again. The new requirements are meant to provide a safe Greek experience so that everyone may benefit.
Phi Kappa Psi’s suspension came after receiving reports of hazing, including requiring “acts of servitude” and “verbal humiliation,” according to official University records. In addition to hazing, the misconduct included alleged situations involving alcohol with little oversight.
A report of off-campus hazing that occurred on September 30 involved potential and current members, as well as other guests.
“It was a camping trip,” Bullins said. “At this event, at least one potential new member (PNM) of the fraternity was struck with a stick after answering a question [about fraternity history] incorrectly.”
After the initial report, an investigation was conducted, reports and interviews were collected from potential new members and Bullins met with chapter leaders and current members.
However, just before interviews were conducted, at least one member encouraged PNMs to deny the allegations in an attempt to walk away unpunished. One of the members offered alcohol to brothers and PNMs if the investigation was resolved without any punishment.
“Throughout the course of the investigation, what we were able to ascertain was that the activity described did in fact happen,” Bullins said.
Per the Student Code of Conduct, Phi Kappa Psi submitted an appeal to the suspension. The appeal was reviewed by Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost, Thomas Gibson, who issued a decision letter denying the fraternity’s appeal, an act consistent with Bullins decision.
“Fraternities and sororities at Bowling Green have a long history of being an integral part of our campus life. I think they certainly add to that,” Bullins said. “We know that the groups help students get connected to the campus and to one another, so we are proud of the rich history and tradition of our fraternity and sorority community.”
Dutson, who no longer attends the University because of health reasons that he considers a “result of the stress that is put on leaders of student organizations,” still firmly believes that Greek life at the University is an exemplary organization.
“I have made some of the best connections in the world with the people in Greek life,” Dutson said. “I am upset that it had to end like this but life goes on.”