Future of University Fraternities

This is a good example of bad decisions made by undergraduates, compounded by more bad decisions. This reminds us that quality alumni guidance is a key factor to preventing misconduct. – KJL

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.”

FSU’s Thrasher lifts some restrictions on Greek life while introducing new measures

President John Thrasher announces changes to allow some Greek life, such as philanthropy and recruiting, to resume at FSU. The alcohol ban remains in place.Facebook live

Students eager to join Greek chapters at Florida State University will face much stricter guidelines under new measures announced Monday.

FSU President John Thrasher said he’s immediately lifting some restrictions he imposed last November to allow Greek organizations to begin recruiting again and to participate in philanthropic events.

“I want to praise the students who have worked with us in this process … (to) shift the campus culture in the right direction,” he said. “We know FSU is not alone in this effort to reform Greek life.”

But the alcohol ban remains for events held by Greek and the more than 700 other recognized student organizations.

“We have kept the ban on alcohol, not only for Greeks but our entire university,” Thrasher said. “I like that. I think it’s a good thing.”

Thrasher suspended all fraternities and sororities and cracked down on alcohol on campus days after the Nov. 3 death of Pi Kappa Phi pledge Andrew Coffey, who drank a bottle of bourbon during an off-campus frat party. Nine fraternity members face felony hazing charges in connection with Coffey’s alcohol-related death.

Amy Hecht, vice president for student affairs, said FSU could lift the alcohol ban before the end of the semester if administrators determined chapters are following new rules and conducting proper oversight of activities.

That includes oversight by the national chapters of Greek fraternities and sororities at FSU. At the same time, the Office for Students Affairs will devote seven full-time employees and two graduate assistants to monitor Greek activity, compared to the current three full-time employees and two graduate assistants. A Greek Advisory Council also will be created.

If the alcohol ban is lifted, chapters will be limited to four such events in the fall and six in the spring. Previously, there was no policy limiting the number of socials with alcohol.

Any incidents jeopardizing a student’s life or out of line with guidelines will immediately be addressed, Hecht warned.

“We will be vigilant. We will hold them accountable through the Student Code of Conduct. I feel very good about our process and buy-in for our plans. It was built with Florida State University in mind, to meet our needs.”

But Hecht acknowledged there are limits to what administrators can do when investigating hazing. For instance, a grand jury criticized the Pi Kappa Phi members for their code of silence during the Coffey investigation.

“We cannot force someone to give information,” said Hecht, a member of Alpha Chi Omega.

Thrasher said he believes having nine fraternity members facing felony charges has “made a resounding difference.”

“They want to change the culture, I believe,” he said.

In addition to Pi Kappa Phi being disbanded on campus, two other FSU fraternities were disciplined for hazing last semester.

Chi Phi has been suspended for two years and their recognition as a student organization revoked, according to FSU Student Affairs documents. Alpha Epsilon Pi was dismissed from campus and is prohibited from being recognized as a university organization for four years.

Thrasher reiterated that ridding FSU of hazing and alcohol will have to be supported by the Greek organizations themselves, the full campus and national leaders of Greek organizations.

“I want their involvement,” Thrasher sternly said. “The (national offices) better wake up or they will lose their chapters at great universities like Florida State.

“If it happens again, it is going to put Greek life in jeopardy.”

Other new measures:

Events with alcohol at houses will be allowed only if the chapter uses third-party vendors, provides food and has police or security approved by the FSU Police Department during the event.

A required 2.5 average GPA to join. Currently, there is no required GPA.

Each member must perform an average of 10 hours of community service.

Required orientation from FSU for all students wishing to join a fraternity or sorority.

At least one local adviser for all chapters; at least two local advisers for chapters with more than 75 members.

A scorecard will be published online including grades, fundraising, service hours

Reducing new member intake from eight weeks to six weeks.

Monthly communication with inter/national offices.

A minimum 75 percent of all chapter members must undergo training on risk management and event policies before any are held and all chapter leaders are required to complete training.

Contact senior writer Byron Dobson at bdobson@tallahassee.com or on Twitter @byrondobson.

Clemson fraternities suspend activities after reported sexual assault

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office continued to investigate a reported sexual assault at a Clemson University fraternity house Monday.

All Clemson fraternity social events are on pause due to the active investigation.

The Clemson University Police Department notified the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office around 12:30 a.m. Saturday about a reported sexual assault at the Delta Chi fraternity house on D Morris Way in Seneca, said Jimmy Watt, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office.

A deputy arrived early Saturday and spoke with the victim at Delta Chi, which is roughly 5 miles away from Clemson’s campus.

Watt declined to disclose any specifics about the investigation and would not say whether or not the suspect is a student at Clemson.

“We have released all that we plan to release at this time,” Watt said. “From what I know and have seen, I don’t think there is any threat to the public at this time.”

Clemson’s Interfraternity Council President Landon Flowers said in a statement Sunday the council’s executive board met to discuss the alleged assault and is committed to “holding our members to a higher standard.”

“Therefore, we are suspending all social activities at fraternity houses effective immediately,” Flowers said. “This suspension will be effective until necessary measures are taken.”

The Interfraternity Council is a self-governing, student-run entity and doesn’t need university approval to take action like this, Flowers said. He said he didn’t recall the IFC ever putting a hold on fraternity parties, either.

The seven-member executive board met around 10 a.m. Sunday to discuss how to handle the incident, Flowers said. No one objected to suspending all fraternity activities while the police continue the investigation, he said.

“We felt, at the time, it was necessary to take action,” Flowers said Monday in an interview. “We were all in agreeance — it wasn’t hard to persuade anybody.”

In 2016, 10 forcible sex offenses were reported to the Clemson University Police Department. Nationally, one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. 

Fraternity members at Clemson attend seminars each semester to talk about sexual assault and consent, Flowers said.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a huge issue at Clemson, but it’s an issue throughout the United States,” Flowers said. “It’s something we definitely talk about and it’s a necessary thing to talk about.”

Clemson encourages victims of sexual assault to utilize the university’s resources and feel confident in reporting sexual violence, said Mark Land, vice president of university relations.

The Clemson University Police Department, Office of Community and Ethical Standards,Counseling and Psychological Services and Redfern Health Center offer a variety of services for students, Land said.

“I can’t say this strongly enough — there is nothing more important than the safety of our students,” Land said. “They will get the kind of support that they need from the university. … We’re going to be there to help them through this.”


UCLA fraternities ban booze at in-house events

UCLA fraternities no longer can host parties with alcohol at their houses, the university’s student-led Interfraternity Council announced Wednesday.

A collection of fraternity leaders “self-proposed an indefinite ban on events involving alcohol that take place within IFC chapter facilities,” and approved it unanimously Tuesday, according to a statement from UCLA’s Interfraternity Council Executive Board.

“Safety will always be the main priority when evaluating the IFC community and we are working towards enacting measures to promote security and prioritize safety,” the statement read.

As the Daily Bruin noted, the ban comes days after a student, Benjamin Orr, was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. He was president of a fraternity last year, according to the Bruin.

Orr, 21, is a fourth-year student at UCLA and was arrested on Sunday on charges of assault with intent to commit rape and oral copulation, according to UCLA officials. Orr was released on $100,000 bond, UCLA police Lt. Kevin Kilgore said.

The Los Angeles district attorney’s office has not filed charges against Orr, according to a spokesman for the office.

Kilgore would not say whether the incident of which Orr is accused occurred in a fraternity house.

“The IFC’s decision to place an indefinite ban on in-house events with alcohol is a step in the right direction to strengthen the safety within the community,” UCLA spokesman Ricardo Vazquez said in an email statement. “[W]hile UCLA does not confirm or discuss student conduct cases, student safety is of paramount concern to the university. UCLA works together with UCPD and CARE [the Campus Assault Resources and Education program] to respond quickly and effectively to reports of inappropriate behavior, which includes but is not limited to, sexual violence and sexual assault.”


Student ‘watch list’ ignites concern #Maxient

Is your national fraternity asking your host institutions to use Maxient? KJL

DeKALB — Dean of Students Kelly Wesener Michael spoke to students Saturday in an attempt to put to rest some misconceptions about a “watch list” rumored to track students’ social media accounts.

The Division of Student Affairs addressed the rumor of tracking students’ social media accounts as “inaccurate” and said the university uses a software to keep track of the different compliance requirements of student groups and organizations, according to a Jan. 26 statement on the Division of Student Affairs webpage.

The rumor about the university’s use of a watch list received traction on social media when an individual with the Twitter handle @noniuwatchlist began posting photos of redacted documents with students’ organization affiliations while using the hashtag #SaveNIU.

Maxient, a recording-keeping software, has been used by the university since 2010 to keep files of students who are involved in a number of situations, such as being the witness to a crime, behavioral concerns or if someone broke their leg, Wesener Michael said. The system serves over 800 universities throughout the country, according to its website.

“I think the biggest concern is that they weren’t made aware that they were put on the watch list,” said Student Association President Rachel Jacob. “I think it’s a major transparency issue that needs to be clarified within the NIU administration.”

A meeting was held Saturday at the Campus Life Building Room 100 to address some of the concerns students have regarding their information being collected.

Evan Johnson, Phi Kappa Theta president, said he thinks the person behind the #SaveNIU movement is “a hero” because it alerted students about their information being collected. He said he also appreciated the university’s willingness to address the issue, but the larger picture of finding a solution needs to be addressed.

“I was content with the fact that they decided to come in and speak about the issue,” Johnson said. “Personally, I feel like that was no solution, which I’m disappointed in.”

Wesener Michael said the term “watch lists” was not chosen by university officials, but it’s actually proprietary programming language used by the Maxient software.

Members of Greek life are added to the software because the university is obligated to notify national chapters, Wesener Michael said. Requests to add NCAA student-athletes and members of the CHANCE program were also honored.

“The only way you get on this is because we have an obligation to notify someone else that something is happening to the members within this organization,” Wesener Michael said.

The names of students who may be a witness to an incident can also be added to the list at the request of an “oversight administrator,” but university officials are unable to remove the individual because of obligations to the state, Wesener Michael said. After the Division of Student Affairs Office receives a notification, they alert administrators who then decide how to proceed.

Wesener Michael declined to name who’s an “oversight administrator” and what office they work for.

Johnson said his fraternity advisor and national chapter has not requested his fraternity be added to the watch list.

Students who aren’t bound to the additional compliance standards of organizations can also be added to the Maxient system by other university employees, including professors, if they exhibit “concerning behavior,” such as disruptions in the classroom, suicidal behavior, among others.

If a student who has been added to the list is cleared of any fault in an incident, that information is documented into the software, which the university is required to hold for a certain number of years under the Records Retention Law, Wesener Michael said.

“We cannot share your information with anyone unless you sign a waiver,” Wesener Michael said.

There are screenshots in the system, but they only appear when students or parents file an incident report and attach the screenshot as evidence.

“NIU does not monitor any personal media accounts at all,” Wesener Michael said. “The reason we would engage in a social media interaction is because an individual tagged the university.”

Wesener Michael said the officials believe a parent made a Freedom of Information Act request for the names of students on the watch list and then turned to social media with the files with the personal information missing.

“That is not anything we did,” Wesener Michael said. “It was shared by an outside entity who got the information through a system that anyone has access to.”

Wesener Michael said university officials didn’t inform students about the Maxient system because the administration only “meant to use it for good” but will look into the processes and procedures of the watch list and plan to be more transparent about how they collect student data.

“Now we have a better sense of this, and we’re going to work toward complete transparency moving forward,” Wesener Michael said.

Johnson said he thinks it’s important officials work with Greeks to ensure transparency between students and student conduct.

“Greeks do not want to cause a problem with student conduct,” Johnson said. “We want to create a policy that will benefit this school. We want to make sure there’s a positive light being shone on the school and the Greek system.”


Editor’s Note: My fraternity Phi Kappa Theta has a chapter at Northern Illinois University

Why Panthers coach Ron Rivera walked away from a fraternity as a pledge at Cal

During his first season as head coach of the Carolina Panthers, Ron Rivera saw a rookie tied up and repeatedly dipped into cold water. What would happen, Rivera wondered, if the ropes didn’t hold?

If you’re listing the five dumbest things human beings do, one of them is hazing. I’m not sure what are the other four.

During his first season as head coach of the Carolina Panthers, Ron Rivera saw a rookie tied up and repeatedly dipped into cold water. What would happen, Rivera wondered, if the ropes didn’t hold?

John Hechinger, a former reporter for the Charlotte Observer, has written “True Gentlemen: The Broken Pledge of America’s Fraternities.” He was at Park Road Books in Charlotte Monday to sign the book.

Last year, students died from hazing episodes at Florida State, Louisiana State, Penn State and Texas State.

Hazing supersedes fraternities. In 2015, the Charlotte 49ers’ baseball team suspended five players for hazing and briefly suspended the program.

The NFL, the toughest of our leagues, has all but eliminated hazing. Rookies carry the helmets and shoulder pads of veterans after practice and entertain veterans with songs and skits at a training camp dinner. They entertain the veterans when they’re good as well as when they’re really bad.

I talked to Carolina Panthers’ coach Ron Rivera about hazing after the Charlotte baseball episode.

During his first season as head coach of the Carolina Panthers, he saw a rookie tied up and repeatedly dipped into cold water. What would happen, Rivera wondered, if the ropes didn’t hold? Rivera ordered the rookie freed.

Rivera pledged for a fraternity when he was at California. The way it worked was that every time he, or any other pledge, screwed up they’d have to drink a shot. It was football season, and Rivera, a star linebacker, wasn’t going to drink.

Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera ended up withdrawing his pledge to a fraternity when he was at California.

The fraternity guys, who might or might not have been wearing khaki, asked him if he wanted to let his fellow pledges down. Rivera withdrew his pledge.

If you do more shots, are you going to be more loyal to an organization? Will you care more about the organization’s purpose or goal (and fraternities do engage in philanthropy)? Is membership on a team or in a fraternity suddenly more prestigious if you’ve been compelled to drink much more than you customarily do?

Rivera talked about a coach on his staff that relentlessly rode a coach at the bottom of the coaching hierarchy. Rivera asked why. Because, said the coach, I had to put up with it.

Rivera told the coach to stop.

Organizations engage in hazing because those that came before them did it.

Lehigh University bans hard liquor at all fraternity events

By Nick Falsone  nfalsone@lehighvalleylive.com,

Those partying at Lehigh University fraternities will be doing so without hard liquor from now on.

The Bethlehem university’s Interfraternity Council Executive Board has placed an indefinite ban on spirits being served at any event sponsored by one of its fraternities. The board announced the ban Tuesday in a statement on the university’s official Greek community blog.

lehigh-university-2c8a3eec11853d6d.jpgThe statement says the ban is in response to “the alarmingly high number of alcohol-related transports over the past semester and the numerous alcohol-related incidents at colleges and universities across the country.” It’s intended to create a safer environment for students, the statement says.

The ban extends to all social events, recruitment events and anything related to new member education. Fraternities found violating the ban will face an indefinite suspension of all chapter activities at a minimum.

“Each violation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and chapters may be subject to harsher sanctions including a suspension of recruitment or losing eligibility to take a new member class,” the statement says. “The IFC is taking this very seriously and these sanctions will be strictly enforced.”

Lehigh in the fall semester grappled with a jump in alcohol-related hospitalizations, injuries and arrests. About 80 Lehigh students were cited for underage drinking during the first three weeks of school in September.

Two on-campus sexual assaults were also reported during the fall semester, one of which happened at a fraternity event.

Drinking precipitated deaths last year at other college campuses in Pennsylvania.

A Lafayette College student died in September after falling on a dorm floor. Authorities said he had been drinking in the days prior to the fall.

In February, a Penn State student died two days after falling down steps at a fraternity.

Nick Falsone may be reached at nfalsone@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickfalsone. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.


Editor’s Note: My fraternity Phi Kappa Theta’s Alpha chapter is at Lehigh Univerisity.

Pitt fraternity suspended for alcohol-related incident that left student hospitalized

Never a good idea to be unavailable to answer the media’s questions. They will write the story without you. Remember that story will be the public face of the fraternity, the actions of a few will define the entire fraternity. – KJL

| Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018, 3:42 p.m.

A University of Pittsburgh fraternity was suspended Tuesday amid an investigation into what officials described as an “alcohol-related incident in which a student was hospitalized.”

The suspension, in connection with a Thursday incident, means “a cessation of operations of a chapter pending the outcome of an investigation,” Pitt spokesman Joe Miksch said in an email.

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.clsAdditionally, all university fraternities and sororities have been placed on “modified social probation,” meaning they can’t sponsor, co-sponsor, or participate in any social activities in which alcohol is present.

Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner issued the Greek-wide probation order after the incident.

In a letter to fraternities and sororities Friday, he referred to the matter as a “serious alcohol incident.”

“The gravity of this incident demands that we reflect on who we are as a Greek system and as a university community in terms of alcohol use,” Bonner said in a statement Tuesday. “Fraternities and sororities play an important role in the lives of our students and university culture and we are proud of our students who are stepping up to address this issue. We are certain that the fraternity and sorority community at Pitt can help us build a safer and healthier environment for everyone to participate in.”

Several fraternity members in a row of residences in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood declined to comment on the record Tuesday to a Trib reporter.

Chatter on social media has revealed the possible name of the fraternity involved, but school officials declined to confirm the identity. However, three students at neighboring fraternities said the incident occurred at the Sigma Chi house.

Sigma Chi national chapter officials did not return calls and emails from the Trib on Tuesday.

Greek life leaders met Saturday to discuss the incident with Summer Rothrock, the director of the Office of Cross Cultural and Leadership Development, which houses Greek life, The Pitt News reported. Rothrock did not return calls Tuesday.

“We cannot comment on a student’s medical condition,” Miksch said. “We can confirm the student’s family was notified.”

The incident comes at a time when fraternity life — particularly in Pennsylvania — is under a microscope.

In February, 19-year-old Timothy Piazza died from injuries sustained when he fell down a flight of stairs during an alcohol-fueled pledge event at Penn State University’s Beta Theta Pi house. Fraternity members did not seek help for Piazza for 12 hours.

More than two dozen people are facing criminal charges in Piazza’s death, and a grand jury report in the wake of his death indicated a “shocking apathy” to the dangers of excessive drinking among Penn State officials. The report pointed to numerous assaults, injuries and alcohol-related emergencies at fraternities over several years.

In November, Penn State’s Alpha Sigma Phi house was cited after police discovered a woman slipping in and out of consciousness outside the house. The 19-year-old said she’d gone there for her birthday and was served about five vodka drinks.

The house was cited for serving alcohol to someone who is underage.


Editor’s Note: My fraternity Phi Kappa Theta has a chapter at University of Pittsburgh

Yale Fraternities Delay Rush Events Amid Push to Allow Women

Several fraternity chapters at Yale University have postponed recruiting events amid a push by student activists to make the social organizations open to both men and women.

By MICHAEL MELIA, Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Several fraternity chapters at Yale University have postponed recruiting events amid a push by student activists to make the social organizations open to both men and women.

yale_og.jpgNorth-American Interfraternity Conference spokeswoman Heather Matthews Kirk said Monday that chapters put off the rush events this weekend when students ineligible for membership indicated they planned to attend.

Yale senior associate dean Burgwell Howard urged fraternity leaders in a letter Thursday to keep rush events open to all students, regardless of gender, while being clear about their organizations’ membership criteria. He wrote that the New Haven, Connecticut, university has no interest in dictating to student organizations who they select.

A student group called Engender has been working on the Ivy League campus to end what it describes as sex discrimination by all-male fraternities.


Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: