By Ruby Van Dyk and Gabby Goodwin || Editors-in-Chief
Chi Phi Fraternity has been suspended from F&M’s campus for 5 years after being found responsible for hazing its members. Chi Phi has been on F&M’s campus for nearly 170 years.
The suspension is effective immediately. The fraternity will not be eligible to apply to return to F&M until 2024. Residents of the chapter house must move out of the residence by the end of this semester.
A meeting took place at 5:30 PM on Monday, April 29th in Bonchek Adams Auditorium to inform current Chi Phi members, F&M Chi Phi alumni, and Chi Phi alumni advisors, included representatives from Chi Phi National headquarters and from other chapters that had previously been shut down and successfully returned, of the decision made by the college.
The suspension is a result of an investigation by the College into the fraternity that was originally prompted by F&M security camera footage.
“We became aware of video footage of what looked like it might be a prank involving new members” said Colette Shaw, Dean of Students.
College administrators went to the Chi Phi Fraternity House the evening the footage was discovered in order to interview every new member; later, key officers were also interviewed. The incident caught on security footage turned out to be nothing of concern. During the interviews, however, much more was shared by new members and key officers regarding hazing and the new member process.
Chi Phi was then charged on the grounds that it allegedly hazed its new members and violated other campus policies.
The charge letter, dated March 26th, 2019 included:
- Hosting a bid night that involved underage new members being expected to drink heavily
- Requiring new members to serve the active brothers in a variety of ways, punishing new members with forced calisthenics when they failed to satisfactorily perform in unapproved testing or “games”
- Sending new members to a leadership conference in place of active members who were required to attend
- Staffing house parties with new members who were not supposed to attend
- Allowing new members to drink at house parties
- Failing to stop alumni who hazed new members
After further investigation and a hearing, the College found Chi Phi responsible for violation of the campus hazing policy, alcohol and drug policy and college fraternity membership policy, along with failure to comply with reasonable request, dangerous behavior and conduct unbecoming of a Franklin & Marshall student.
Dean Shaw emphasized the fact that throughout the investigation all of the Chi Phi members involved were extremely cooperative and forthcoming.
The College also issued individual charges to brothers, who were notified of the outcome ahead of the official decision regarding the status of the fraternity.
When asked about the decision to suspend Chi Phi, Shaw responded that “This was a decision based on the culture of the organization not just one event. There was a lack of support structures within the fraternity, and troubling alumni behavior.”
What was also troubling to the College was the fact that new members were not concerned about the hazing they had experienced. According to Dean Shaw, some even said they were glad it had happened, as they felt it brought their group closer together.
Some chapter leaders were concerned about the hazing taking place within the organization, but were unable to make successful changes because of the culture present within the fraternity.
“They sincerely wanted to have a healthy organization. They had a vision for a healthier Chi Phi, but culture was stronger than individuals” said Shaw.
Stuart Umberger, Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, emphasized the fact that hazing will not be tolerated amongst F&M fraternities.
“Hazing cannot and will not be accepted in any form as we move our community forward. Frats will die and Fraternities will thrive on college campuses. F&M will continue to find a place for fraternities that aspire to our five areas of excellence: Seeking Purpose, Leadership Development, Intellectual Advancement, Responsible Citizenship and Community Building” said Umberger.
The College Reporter was unable to obtain a quote from Chi Phi’s National Organization.
The suspension means that all current members of the organization will now become Chi Phi alumni, and, from now on, will be prohibited from participating as Chi Phi members. This means they will no longer be able to wear letters, meet as a group, host events, have group chats, etc. In fact, all of these offenses are considered suspendable violations.
For now, no one will live in the Chi Phi Fraternity House, as alumni feel strongly about having no other group in the house.
In the next five years, Dean Shaw hopes that Chi Phi will focus on encouraging active involvement from their alumni base so that it is supportive of the national Chi Phi values and traditions inside the fraternity.
If Chi Phi successfully applies to return to F&M, it will need to recruit new members completely from scratch. It will also be placed under a set of conditions it must comply with. Some of these conditions include:
-The basement of the chapter house will be closed permanently
-The chapter house and property will be substance-free
-All recruitment and educational programs will be run or overseen closely by their national organization
-The chapter will be responsible for hiring and employing a live-in professional house manager to oversee the house
Chi Phi has one week to appeal this decision to the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs.
Dean Shaw said that part of the reason the College decided on suspension of 5 years is because they felt anything less would not bring about effective change in the chapters culture.
“I think this is going to take a while. It’s going to take multiple years to get everyone on the same track” added Shaw.
Junior Gabby Goodwin and Sophomore Ruby Van Dyk are the Editors-in-Chief. Their emails are firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.