Correction: Article has been updated to state that Phi Psi cannot host parties with alcohol until the end of the 2017 fall semester. Article originally stated that the fraternity could only host parties at the end of the 2018 fall semester.
As a consequence of independent incidents involving violations of the Student Code of Conduct, alcohol, and social event management policies, both the Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon fraternities have been sanctioned to varying degrees by college administration. DU is on social probation until Feb. 9, and Phi Psi is suspended from all activities through 2017 with a social probationary period lasting until the end of 2018. The sanctions followed formal College Judiciary Committee hearings.
The closing of DU also involves separate renovations underway at the house. Eric Langan ’17, president of DU, further described the circumstances involving the shutdown of the fraternity for the next few weeks.
“Part of it is that we were undergoing renovations to the house to make the house more ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible, and there was also a disciplinary issue … Basically, we went as an organization through the disciplinary process, and we are on social probation for about two and a half more weeks. Then, we will be back to full organizational operation,” he said.
During the probationary period set to the end of Feb. 9, DU can still conduct meetings, though it cannot host parties with alcohol. Additionally, the fraternity must develop a set of what Langan described as “best practices” to ensure that the incident that led to the CJC hearing cannot happen again. These “best practices” involve DU’s business practices as well as other campus social issues. The practices are to be set in correspondence with Assistant Director of the Office of Student Engagement and Greek Life Advisor Andrew Barclay, as well as Alcohol and Other-Drugs Counselor & Educator Josh Ellow.
“That’s going to be an ongoing relationship. And, there’s going to be an educational seminar for all members of our organization that 90 percent of our brothers need to attend. Hopefully everyone comes, but it’s hard to get everyone in one place at one time. Attendance to that seminar is one of the disciplinary measures,” continued Langan.
If 90 percent of DU’s members do not show up to the first educational seminar to discuss DU’s best practices, there more seminars will be held until that 90 percent minimum is reached. Langan further explained that the fraternity expects to have a framework on the best practices by Feb. 9.
In regard to the fraternity’s overall relationship with administration, Langan believes that DU still maintains a good relationship.
“This is the first time that I would consider moderate sanctions being placed on DU, since I’ve been part of DU executive board. We’ve been in good standing with administration, and I believe we still are. It’s not uncommon for fraternities to go through disciplinary measures. I mean we’re a big organization, you know, obviously, it’s far from ideal. But, we’re ready to move past this and view it as a learning experience and opportunity for growth,” he explained.
Langan declined to comment on the specifics of the incident that led to the CJC hearing, though he did describe the situation as complicated.
As for Phi Psi, the fraternity received far more severe sanctions after a hard alcohol related incident during their “80’s Ski Lodge” party on Nov. 12 last semester. The fraternity was found in violation of the college’s alcohol and other drugs policies, which resulted in a suspension lasting 2017 and probation until 2018. According to Cole Fox ’17, the president of Phi Psi, the fraternity cannot conduct meetings, conduct community service, coordinate with the Title IX Office, or engage in campus outreach during its suspension. Phi Psi cannot hold parties with alcohol until the end of the fall 2017 semester, though can operate fully as an organization at the beginning of 2018.
According to the college’s student handbook, there is a clear distinction between suspension for a student group and probation. If a student or organization is suspended, they cannot engage in any activities associated with the college, whereas during probation, a student or organization can engage in various activities on campus with restrictions. The terms of probation are decided on individual cases, depending on the violation of the Student Code of Conduct.
Fox later shared his dissatisfaction with the results from the CJC hearing.
“The CJC was handled according to the student handbook. Though underage drinking is a violation of school policy, we think it is unfair that we are consistently under scrutiny for a policy that is not unilaterally enforced, in any respects, across campus party spaces,” said Fox. He later confirmed that he believed the decision resulted from a series of Phi Psi related incidences prior.
CJC decisions can be appealed, and Phi Psi said they appealed to Dean of Students Liz Braun on the grounds that the imposed sanctions were grossly disproportionate to the violation committed. However, the fraternity was denied.
Unlike DU’s penalty, Phi Psi only has to meet with Josh Ellow once as a part of the process for any alcohol related sanction. Phi Psi also meets with Ellow once a semester, separate from their punishment.
The suspension of Phi Psi also works against the administration’s requests that Phi Psi develop their best practices as well.
“The administration has asked us to continue work on our best practices for event management and train the entirety of our membership, which is difficult when we are prohibited from congregating. The difficulty of enacting positive change without the ability to congregate was explicitly addressed in our appeal, which was denied,” said Fox.
The closing of both of the fraternities calls into question the future party landscape on campus. Both the presidents of Phi Psi and DU believe that there might be a decrease in the amount of parties in the coming weeks.
“Obviously there will be a reduction in party space capacity for the next year. We hope that the school will not further reduce this capacity with egregious punitive action towards other party hosting organizations or individuals,” said Fox.
Langan echoed similar concerns.
“There hasn’t been a fraternity party since November, and I was at Tarble last night at Pub Nite, and the line was almost out the door. And I guess that’s to be expected with the first Thursday back, but I think not having the two fraternity spaces functioning as social spaces for this period of time certainly puts a lot more stress on Paces and Olde Club,” said Langan.
However, Andrew Barclay did not share those same concerns about a possible decrease in registered parties on campus.
“Generally speaking, I expect to see an increase in events held on campus this spring. We’ve done a lot to simplify the college’s social event registration over the past semester. These changes include a streamlined registration form, changes to the number of required hosts over the age of 21, and we’ve created additional resources to learn about the policies regarding events on campus,” said Barclay.
He later mentioned that there are two to four registered open events on an average weekend.
The Phoenix also reached out to members to NuWave, a group on campus dedicated to providing an alternative party space, for comment. The Phoenix was unable to reach representatives of NuWave.
As for a possible reduction in the amount of SwatTeam members needed to monitor parties, Aaliyah Dillion, SwatTeam Director, could not predict a possible decrease.
“The amount of events that SwatTeam members work always varies from week to week. So I cannot predict how the fraternities being closed will impact SwatTeam overall. Regardless, we will continue to serve the campus community as best as we can,” she said.
According to Fox, Barclay told him that while the Phi Psi house is not in use, the house will not be available as a party space for other student groups. When asked to corroborate this possibility, Barclay declined to comment.
Barclay concluded by saying that he will be emailing the community about further details about the fraternities after this article’s publication.