AXP and TKE disciplined for alleged violations of College policy

Photo Credit: googleimages.com

Photo Credit: googleimages.com

By Jennifer Kiebach, News Editor

Two Greek organizations experienced major disciplinary action over the past several months as the result of conduct violations.

Alpha Chi Rho, popularly known as Crow, underwent a significant reorganization in the week before winter break after allegations surfaced that the chapter had engaged in hazardous hazing practices during the 2011-2012 academic year.

Tau Kappa Epsilon also  recently received sanctions after the College confirmed reports that the chapter, which had been suspended from campus since 2010, was involved in “underground activity.”

While some students have questioned the College’s reactions to the conduct violations in these two organizations, Dean of Students Julie Ramsey affirmed that the College only did what it needed to do to encourage students to meet the expectations of the campus community.

“The most important thing for students to know is that there is accountability for student organizations that violate the College’s expectations [in the ways that Alpha Chi Rho and Tau Kappa Epsilon allegedly have],” she said. “I think students, faculty and parents all expect that there will be consequences in situations like these where organizations are in violation of the College’s policies.”

Alpha Chi Rho accused of hazing

This past December, Alpha Chi Rho (Crow) received a lengthy set of sanctions after the College received several reports that the chapter had engaged in serious hazing practices during the 2011-2012 academic year.

In the spring of 2012, the College had found Crow responsible for a number of “low-level” hazing charges, according to Director of Greek Organizations Joe Gurreri.

Gurreri said that, as far as the College knew at that time, the hazing activities were of a relatively minor nature and included making pledges run errands for members of the fraternity and “inappropriate amounts of time being spent on chapter activities.”

As of last spring, the College had not been aware of any more serious violations, and it worked with the chapter to revise its new member plan, in addition to issuing a number of relatively minor sanctions.

“As far as we knew, that [new member plan] was followed this fall semester,” Gurreri said, but the College was concerned that Crow was still “not bringing their overall chapter operations up to the standards they needed to meet.”

These concerns increased when the College received reports that more serious hazing violations had occurred during the 2011-2012 academic year in addition to the low-level ones for which the chapter had already been sanctioned.

Gurreri said that the College felt that “the safety and well-being of students was put in jeopardy” as a result of the hazing activities, which allegedly included “sleep deprivation activities, errands and acts of servitude and other activities that clearly violated College policy.”

Working with Crow’s local alumni board and national headquarters, the College proposed a set of sanctions for the chapter, including the removal of all current juniors and seniors and making the chapter house dry for one calendar year.

The College allowed current sophomores to remain in the organization.

“They had just joined this fall, so they were not part of this ‘old guard’,” Gurreri said.

According to Gurreri, the College “provided guidance in the housing relocation process” to many of the juniors and seniors who were displaced following the announcement of the sanctions. Administrators coordinated with members of the College’s Residence Life staff to find students housing despite the current shortage of living space on campus.

“The College assured [juniors and seniors] that they would, at minimum, pair [students] up with at least one other member of Alpha Chi Rho in their new housing arrangement and, in many cases, worked with them in selecting apartments where four or five of the men could live together,” said Gurreri.

Additionally, the alumni board and national headquarters are working with the College to invest in leadership training for these current members. This training, Gurreri said, will hopefully help the chapter overcome the mentality that led to the sanctions.

Ramsey reiterated this sentiment, saying that she hopes students will view the sanctions as an opportunity to reform their behavior.

“Our hope is that with considerable oversight from the national organization and the alumni, the Alpha Chi Rho chapter can establish a better approach to working with new members,” she said.

The Gettysburgian reached out to several former Crow brothers who were debrotherized as a result of the sanctions, but all declined to comment.

Tau Kappa Epsilon suspended indefinitely after reports of underground activity

Tau Kappa Epsilon also received significant disciplinary action from the College after reports surfaced that the chapter had taken part in “underground” off-campus activity while it was officially suspended from campus.

In 2010, the College had placed a two-year suspension on the chapter due to a number of ongoing conduct violations, including “life safety issues, disorderly conduct, social event violations, acts of aggression, violence and assaults that jeopardized the safety of students,” according to Gurreri.

This suspension expired during the Fall 2012 semester, and several students approached Gurreri and Ramsey about recolonizing the chapter.

At the same time, however, TKE headquarters and the College were receiving reports of potential underground chapter activity, including active recruitment and the use of TKE letters and symbols for sponsoring events.

The Department of Public Safety initiated an investigation into these reports and ultimately confirmed that underground activity was occurring, and that this activity violated the terms of the chapter’s suspension.

As a result of these violations, the College has indefinitely suspended TKE from the Gettysburg campus, a decision announced to the fratnerity’s alumni board on Jan. 24 of this year. This suspension can be for no less than two academic years, meaning that the chapter can return no earlier than the Fall of 2015.

“In talking to [TKE’s] headquarters, they basically determined that they weren’t interested in investing in a colony that still had the old culture,” Gurreri said. “Similarly, from a college perspective, if we didn’t feel like everyone was ready to make this happen, and that underground activity was still occurring, this just wasn’t the ideal time [to recolonize the chapter].”

Ramsey said that part of the College’s intention in placing these sanctions was to discourage this kind of underground activity in the future.

“Our hope with TKE is that sophomores will decide not to join an underground organization with a very uncertain future,” she said. “If students want to be part of the Greek community here and have a full Greek experience, we hope they will opt for a recognized organization with housing privileges.”

Gurreri noted that the College believes this sanction will also ultimately serve the long-term interests of the chapter.

“If  [waiting a couple years to recolonize the chapter] might buy a chapter success for fifty years, that seems like probably a reasonable way of approaching it,” he said.

College looks forward to the future of the Greek community

Although Gurreri has heard few reactions from students regarding the sanctions placed on Crow and TKE, he acknowledged that such decisions inevitably lead some students to question the College’s support of the Greek community.

“Generally speaking, I think there’s some questions about are we trying to reduce or eliminate the Greek community,” he said. “I think those questions certainly come about, [but] it certainly is not the case.”

Ramsey said that students need to recognize that they have to take ownership of their actions, and the College is obligated to impose sanctions when organizations violate the College’s expectations.

“Our goal really is to create conditions where students are motivated to follow the policies and abide by reasonable expectations,” she said.

Gurreri and Ramsey also hope to encourage the Greek community to grow as a positive contributor to the campus community.

Gurreri, who graduated from Gettysburg College in 2008, replaced Andrew Barclay as Director of Greek Organizations about a week before the start of the Fall 2012 semester. As a student, he was familiar with the College’s Greek scene, and he hopes that this familiarity will help him relate  to current members of the Greek community.

“We really do have the long-term interests of the Greek community at heart,” he said.

He noted that he has not personally heard much reaction from the campus community regarding either set of sanctions, but he encourages students to reach out to him with any suggestions or concerns.

To aid in this communication between Greek students and the rest of the campus community, the College is working on a new evaluation system for on-campus Greek chapters that will encourage interaction between members of the Greek community,  College officials and non-Greek students.

“I think the biggest thing is knowing that these are student organizations that are self-governing,” Gurreri said. “We want to advise them and help them have a positive experience, but we also want to know what they would like to see as the future of the Greek community.”

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