University protected fraternity despite violations, emails show
January 31, 2018
A fraternity kicked off campus last semester had a six-year history of violations before the university finally expelled it, documents obtained by The Daily Aztec show.
The final straw for Phi Kappa Theta was a September incident involving apparent underage drinking, and not even an eleventh-hour email from its former president Chris Thomas — from his official A.S. officer email account — could save the fraternity from expulsion.
Emails obtained via a California Public Records Act request also show both the university and the fraternity’s national office moved to prevent information about the chapter’s expulsion from being released to the public.
After the fraternity’s expulsion, emails show administrators moved to shield Phi Kappa Theta’s policy violations from the public eye.
When The Daily Aztec inquired about the specific reasons for Phi Kappa Theta’s removal, Caryl Montero-Adams, the assistant director of Student Life and Leadership for Greek life, told an SDSU media relations officer in an email that in the past, officials “have communicated the founded policy violations (ex. alcohol) without disclosing the specifics related to the incidents. That said, I believe that any specifics given would need to be discussed and approved with (Dean of Students Randy Timm and Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Christy Samarkos).”
The specifics were ultimately not provided to The Daily Aztec until a California Public Records Act request was submitted.
The national Phi Kappa Theta organization also would not return requests for details on why the fraternity’s charter was revoked.
“(The Daily Aztec) reached out to us again over the weekend looking for more specifics,” Robert Riggs, national executive vice president of Phi Kappa Theta, said in an email to Montero-Adams. “We determined that no additional information would be shared and did not respond to his follow up request.”
A history of violations
The San Diego State chapter of Phi Kappa Theta had a long history of brushes with university administrators.
In February 2011, it was placed on an interim suspension for unspecified alcohol violations.
In April 2012, it was suspended after then-Sigma Alpha Epsilon president Barzeen Barzanji died of an overdose at the Phi Kappa Theta house. The fraternity was later absolved of responsibility in his death.
In Fall 2013, Phi Kappa Theta was reported to university officials for two separate parties with alleged alcohol violations.
In January 2014, the university again placed the fraternity on an interim suspension for the violations in the fall. The national Phi Kappa Theta office then placed the SDSU chapter on a complete suspension in February.
In September 2014, the fraternity again faced allegations about alcohol violations, and the following month an unapproved event with alcohol was hosted in which a student fell from a balcony at the chapter house.
The fraternity was placed on another interim suspension in October 2014.
A little more than a year later, in December 2015, a Phi Kappa Theta member was involved in a physical and verbal altercation at the chapter house that resulted in him being taken to detox.
And in September 2016, a social event resulted in fraternity members being treated for intoxication while another event was found to have included new members — who are usually underage — drinking alcohol.
One person, who identified themselves only as a fifth-year senior and a “concerned Greek,” expressed concern in an email to Montero-Adams about the September 2016 incidents. The person mentioned a Snapchat video they claimed showed Phi Kappa Theta members drinking hard liquor during the university dry period, which lasts from Aug. 1 to Oct. 1 of every year.
The “concerned Greek” also included an image of a Snapchat message purportedly sent from a Phi Kappa Theta member soon after the fraternity was taken off probation.
The message read:
“Silence is over and PHI KAP IS BACK!! We just gave out bids to the tallest, strongest, make-you-drip-from-down-unda frat stars on campus. Tomorrow night, we all black them out and welcome them to state the right way. Handles and all sorts of things will be going down throats tomorrow night, so mob Tiki at (address redacted) 63rd st. at 9:30 if you want your world changed forever. These kids are f***ing sick. We’re back, so let’s black.”
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Newly released 911 calls capture the desperate scene as Florida State Universityfraternity brothers struggled to revive a pledge who died of alcohol poisoning in November.
“So there we had a party last night and my friend passed out on the couch on his side. His lips are purple, his body is extremely stiff, and I can’t wake him up,” the caller told the dispatcher. “And honestly, I don’t feel a pulse.”
The dispatcher instructs the caller to perform chest compressions on Coffey, urging him to count with her as ambulances raced to the fraternity house.
“We’re going to do this until help can take it over. I need you to count out loud so I can count with you,” the dispatcher said.
Nine men are facing hazing charges in connection with the death.
A Leon County grand jury last month said that it saw enough evidence for criminal charges but that the investigation was not complete. It left the decision about charges up to the state attorney’s office or a future grand jury.
According to grand jury testimony, a fellow FSU fraternity pledge found Coffey unresponsive at the party, but instead of calling immediately 911, the pledge contacted other members of the fraternity.
“The brothers, pledges, and officers were more concerned about getting in trouble than they were about trying to save Coffey’s life,” the grand jury said.
After Coffey’s death, FSU President John Thrasher suspended all Greek life and banned alcohol at all recognized student organization events. Pi Kappa Phi’s national office has closed the FSU chapter. This week, Thrasher reinstated Greek life on campus although a ban on alcohol remains in effect.
The grand jury did find that although Coffey’s alcohol consumption was not physically forced, an environment of hazing existed that culminated in his death. The fraternity’s “Big Brother Night” party, which was held at an off-campus home, encouraged binge drinking.
ZBT members act like pigs at their pig roast http://cornellsun.com/2018/02/02/cornell-fraternity-ran-pig-roast-contest-awarded-points-for-sex-university-report-says/
Cornell’s Zeta Beta Tau fraternity has been placed on probationary recognition after the University found that it was conducting a “pig roast” in which “new members could accumulate ‘points’ by engaging in sexual intercourse with women.”
The new members were instructed not to inform the women of the contest and, in case of a tie, the member who had sex with a woman who weighed the most won, according to an investigation conducted by the University’s Fraternity and Sorority Review Board that concluded last month.
The University said the contest occurred in 2017, but did not specify who was involved or for how long the contest ran.
ZBT will be on probationary recognition for two years and must fulfill other requirements, including a full chapter brotherhood and external review by its national organization and participation in programs like Sexual Assault Awareness Week and Cornell’s bystander intervention program.
ZBT’s actions, according to Paul Russell ’19, interfraternity council president, are “not normal” and IFC has been “working to make sure these sorts of incidents don’t become normalized.
“The IFC was appalled and disgusted by the activity described in the reports,” Russell said. “The decision about the specific sanctions placed on ZBT was made jointly by administrators and IFC leadership in a review board hearing earlier this year after a hearing and a review of the allegations.”
The review board found the chapter guilty of violating the University’s Fraternity and Sorority Recognition Policy by implementing hazing and section 11 of Cornell’s Fraternity and Sorority Expectations of Membership, which prohibits “sexually abusive behavior on the part of its members.”
“We think the IFC and the Office of Sorority and Fraternity life are uniquely poised to respond to this type of activity because we can and have mandated that the chapter now participate in programming to educate their members about sexual misconduct and help them to foster a healthy culture,” Russell said.
The chapter is also required to work closely with the OSFL this semester to hire an adviser, do a facility walkthrough, create a transition program and have monthly meetings about progress updates.
Cornell University did not immediately respond for comment.