Phi Delta Theta Apologizes for Playing ‘Purge’ Siren During Power Outage

By Benjamin Pontz, Editor-in-Chief

Nearly two months after an overnight power outage during which members of Phi Delta Theta blasted the siren and announcement from The Purge, the fraternity has now issued an apology as part of a sanction imposed by the Interfraternity Council’s (IFC) Judicial Board.

The apology, which states that members of the fraternity did not intend “to cause any unnecessary disturbance to the community,” stems from an Oct. 16 campus power outage during which, according to charges levied against the fraternity through the IFC judicial process, the siren “incited a panic,” a charge summary shared with The Gettysburgian shows.

In The Purge film franchise, the siren signals a 12-hour “purge” indicating that crime — including murder — is legal and emergency services are unavailable as a form of population control. The siren, as well as other elements of the film, like masks, have become canon in the horror film genre and are frequently depicted in popular culture as Halloween costumes. The ubiquity of the film notwithstanding, several students, hearing sirens on campus, called the Department of Public Safety to ask whether the siren signaled an actual emergency.

The Office of Student Activities and Greek Life investigated the incident that week — interviewing students who were alarmed by or otherwise aware of the incident — and presented a disorderly conduct charge against the fraternity to the Interfraternity Council’s Judicial Board.

Phi Delta Theta pled responsible for the disorderly conduct charge. The Judicial Board imposed two sanctions: a written warning and the requirement of a public apology to the campus community.

Those sanctions were imposed in late October. On Dec. 12, Phi Delta Theta President Peter McQuade ’21 sent the text of the apology to The Gettysburgian. Associate Director of Student Activities and Greek Life Caitlin Lindsay said that at least part of the reason for the delay between the time the sanction was imposed and fulfilled is that OSAGL required revisions to the first draft of the apology.

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The Gettysburgian asked McQuade why the apology comes nearly two months after the incident, the extent to which — given that it was a mandated apology — it represents sincere remorse, and what the cut-off time for playing music on the fraternity porch will be.

McQuade answered those questions, but did not want the responses published, citing a desire that the letter speak for itself.

The Gettysburg Borough Comprehensive Noise Control Ordinance prohibits any sound that is “unpleasant, annoying, offensive, loud, or obnoxious to a reasonable person of normal sensibilities; unusual for the time of day or location where it is produced or heard; or detrimental to the health, comfort, or safety of persons or animals or to the reasonable enjoyment of property or the lawful conduct of business because of the loudness, duration, or character of the noise.” It specifically prohibits playing radio or audio equipment that causes noise disturbances across a property line. An exception for parties exists, but noise from such parties must end by 11:00 p.m.

The chapter’s apology letter states that the chapter has placed a cut off time for music on its porch and will impose “severe consequences” on members found to break that rule.

We as the chapter of Phi Delta Theta recognize that such behavior is not acceptable and would like to reassure the community that it will not be an issue moving forward,” the letter says. “We would like to make it undoubtedly clear to anyone affected by this incident that the safety of our peers is a top priority.”

Read the full letter in HTML form

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Author: Benjamin Pontz

Benjamin Pontz '20 served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gettysburgian from 2018 until 2020, Managing News Editor from 2017 until 2018, News Editor in the spring of 2017, and Staff Writer during the fall of 2016. During his tenure, he wrote 232 articles. He led teams that won two first place Keystone Press Awards for ongoing news coverage (once of Bob Garthwait's resignation, and the other of Robert Spencer's visit to campus) and was part of the team that wrote a first-place trio of editorials in 2018. He also received recognition for a music review he wrote in 2019. A political science and public policy major with a music minor, he graduated in May of 2020 and will pursue a master's degree in public policy on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Manchester before enrolling in law school.

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  1. This is terrible journalistic work. Report on something that actually matters and doesn’t make an outstanding Gettysburg association look bad simply because you don’t like them.

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  2. Pontz you show, once again, zero ability to accurately and responsibly report the so called “news” this “newspaper” reports. If you talked to more than 1 person who you knew had your side, you would have found a drastically different consensus. Poor journalistic work, and a genuinely offending that you pass this off as news.

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