Wave of fraternity probations receding

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Story by Mary Bradley, Editor-in-Chief, and Alicia SteeleStaff writer

Five fraternities landed on social probation and social suspension since July – with two still on probation – because of stricter enforcement of university policies and complications from anonymous reports through the LiveSafe app.

“We’re trying to safeguard not only the community, but also the university in the policies that we’re doing,” said Evan Ditty, coordinator of Greek life and student leadership programs.

  • Pi Kappa Alpha faced social probation for holding an unregistered social event in July.
  • Holding unregistered social events led to Lambda Chi Alpha’s suspension in July and Alpha Tau Omega’s suspension in August. Lambda Chi Alpha remains on probation until two sanctions are completed.
  • Sigma Chi was suspended because of an anonymous tip from LiveSafe, which claimed several members assaulted an attendee. That was later disproved.
  • Alpha Gamma Rho remains on social probation.

Open records obtained by The Murray State News show email exchanges, letters, police reports and LiveSafe reports that led to the fraternities’ probations and suspensions.

Ditty

Ditty

Two fraternities – Pi Kappa Alpha and Lambda Chi Alpha – were required to attend a hearing with the Greek Standards Board earlier in September, two months after they landed on probation and suspension. The board members, however, did not complete training until Sept. 8, when four of the five fraternities already received letters, according to correspondence from the Greek life office.

   Ditty said the training date had been set in the spring before he arrived on campus after accepting the position earlier in the year.

   Ditty said party regulations were not enforced as strongly in the past by the Greek life office and he and other Greek life administrators are working to bring the “reins back in.”

While some of LiveSafe’s reports have been false or unconfirmed, Ditty said anonymous tips will be investigated before fraternities are initially placed on social suspension or probation.

“We’re treating them with seriousness just because we want to believe that the app is being used the way it should be, but at the same time we’re also making sure we’re doing a punitive investigation to see whether or not it’s true before we go and put them on social suspension from here on out,” Ditty said.

Sigma Chi President Jared Stallons said issues at the beginning of the year frustrated him, but he now has a better understanding of policies.

“At first I was pretty frustrated because initially we were being punished for something we actually did not do,” Stallons said. “Over the course of talking to university admins, I finally had a little bit of understanding why they were doing what they were doing even though it was frustrating for us. Now, that the university is actually getting everything together, I’m confident something like this won’t happen again.”

President Bob Davies said the fraternities were involved in “serious incidents” but declined to elaborate. He said he believes the Greek systems remains important to the university.

“The fraternities and sororities provide immense value to the members, to the community, to the university and add to the experience of being a university student,” Davies said. “I want to see our Greek system thrive. I want to see our Greek system continue to grow and expand.”

SUMMER INCIDENTS

The Greek Standards Board placed Pi Kappa Alpha, or Pike, on social probation July 20 because of an unregistered social event, according to a letter from Ditty Pike President Jared Bone.

Additionally, a Public Safety and Emergency Management police report stated the same party July 18 resulted in a “large fight.”

It took seven officers to break up the fight in addition to two Calloway County deputies Pike hired for security that night. The fight later moved to Cook Out, but the Murray City Police broke it up.

According to a letter from Ditty to Bone, the standards board released the fraternity from probation Sept. 15. Pike was not going to be held responsible for the alleged violation. Ditty also thanked them for cooperating with the standards board during the investigation.

LIVESAFE’S ROLE

Alpha Tau Omega, or ATO, was placed on social suspension effective Aug. 24 for an unregistered social event held on Aug. 22, according to a letter from Ditty to ATO president Aran Coughlan. Someone anonymously reported it through LiveSafe.

The LiveSafe user claimed five or six AGR members assaulted the person at the ATO event and wrote their friend recognized the lettering on their shirts.

Ditty wrote in a letter to Coughlan on Sept. 14 that the standards board cleared the fraternity of all charges, ending the probation because the complaints could not be confirmed.

“LiveSafe is a practical app that has the potential to help out the student body with safety and tips that are easily acceptable,” Coughlan told The News in an email. “However, it is wrong to place a whole chapter on ‘suspension’ because of an anonymous tip.”

He said reports from LiveSafe could be made up or false.

REPORTS OF FIGHTS

Lambda Chi Alpha, or Chop, faced social suspension July 13 after the Greek office received a police report. The fraternity was placed on suspension for an unregistered social event that occurred the night of July 11.

In addition, a woman at the party reported to a Kentucky State Police trooper on patrol that two women and a man assaulted her.

The trooper confirmed seeing a woman who “was crying and angry” and had “scratches and redness on her face,” according to a police report.

That wasn’t the only incident related to the fraternity’s party that night, according to the report. Murray City Police officers chased after a man involved in another altercation, in which partygoers claimed a gun or a knife was involved. Law enforcement could not confirm that, according to the state police report.

After the party, leaders of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church located next door to the Chop house complained in a letter Aug. 25 to Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Mike Young. It requested Chop members to respect their property.

“Numerous times they have had parties,” the letter said. “There is a tremendous amount of trash left in our parking lot and our grounds, including broken alcohol bottles and other litter.”

MAKING AMENDS

Because of this, the fraternity attended a hearing with the Greek Standards Board Sept. 10. According to a letter sent to Chop President Barrett Pazderka on Sept. 11, the fraternity would remain on social suspension until they met requirements:

Have a mock social event, presented by Ditty, with 100 percent chapter participation,

Complete TIPS, a seminar that educates organizations on how to be a positive influence, with 100 percent chapter participation,

Write an apology letter to the female guest who was assaulted

And write an apology letter to the Emmanuel Lutheran Church.

Chop also must to have two chapter advisers, Ditty and the social chair of IFC at the next two registered social events.

The standards board downgraded Chop’s suspension to probation Sept. 11 after meeting the mock social event and TIPS requirements, according to a letter sent from Ditty to Pazderka.

Pazderka said the fraternity is in the process of writing the letters to the woman assaulted and to the church and they plan on doing more.

“We’re going to go beyond that and say we’re going to dedicate this many community service hours to [the church] to restore our relationship and buy cones or a chain or something to where nobody can use that lot during social events,” Pazderka said. “With the girl, I’m supposed to write her a letter but I’m hoping to turn that into a lunch, just to go a little above and beyond to restore that relationship because that’s awful.”