Lambda Chi Alpha - University of Illinois

Spring 2020 Newsletter

Chi Zeta of Lambda Chi Alpha at the University of Illinois

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Chi Zetagram 2 University of Illinois Disciplinary Proceedings of Chi Zeta What Happened and What's Next for Chi Zeta of Lambda Chi Alpha? M any brothers have requested additional information regarding the disciplinary process which resulted in the situation we now find ourselves. We own a brand new but empty chapter house that is in the process of being sold. THE INCIDENT The undergraduates' activities that resulted in our present dilemma occurred in April of 2018. The activities first came to light with an Instagram post by a participating member of a sorority. The commentary accompanying the post salaciously described an event which constituted hazing under the rules of the International Fraternity, the University of Illinois, and Illinois statute. Following a thorough investigation, it turns out that the commentary accompanying the post wildly overstated the activities which took place. While less egregious than described, the activities of fraternity members constituted hazing nonetheless, including "pre-game" service of alcohol to minors. Sadly, this is the exact type of conduct that seminars previously presented to chapter members by the alumni board and other sources warned against. A sorority advisor who viewed the Instagram post contacted our own faculty advisor, Brother Steve Parsons. Brother Parsons immediately reported the event to your Alumni Association directors, who collectively determined that we were obliged to self-report to both the University and International Fraternity. THE INVESTIGATION The University immediately launched an investigation. Unfortunately, many of the undergraduate members chose not to participate in the investigation by not returning phone calls or answering emails, raising additional red flags. The investigation was further compromised by the start of summer break which left very few members on campus. The University's investigation was therefore not concluded until the fall of 2018. In the interim, the International Fraternity in conjunction with the Alumni Association determined that the chapter should be run by an Alumni Control Board (ACB). The ACB conducted membership reviews which resulted in multiple members resigning from the fraternity, being expelled, or otherwise disciplined. The ACB also took effective control of chapter operations, replacing certain officers and otherwise overseeing or being present at all group activities. Various educational programs were presented with high percentage member attendance required, and the chapter was obliged to operate on an alcohol-free basis. The University moved leisurely in completing its investigation and scheduling a disciplinary hearing. Frankly, the Board of Fraternity Affairs (BFA), which oversees disciplinary matters within the Greek system, faced other more pressing and immediate challenges. It was not until April 25, 2019, that the BFA scheduled our disciplinary hearing. For the most part, our defense was a presentation of the remedial steps taken in response to the April 2018 incident: establishment of the ACB, a fraternity education plan, leadership educational training, and a slow return to social activities. THE OUTCOME Following our hearing, the BFA convened to consider discipline for the chapter. In essence, the penalty imposed by the BFA was for us to continue the process which we had initiated shortly after the incident with continuing alumni control for the indefinite future before a gradual transition back to normal operations. The chapter was still on probation since the 2014 drug sale violation by a member, which was to end October 2018, and this was extended one more year. The BFA was in fact quite complimentary of the actions taken by our Alumni Association and the International Fraternity in confronting and addressing a serious situation. Unfortunately, an interim dean of students whose contract with the University had not been renewed objected to the BFA's decision. Although this sort of appeal is permitted under University regulations, it is an extraordinarily rare action. The appeal was presented to the Faculty Senate Committee on Student Discipline, which is largely comprised of faculty members. The hearing before the Senate Committee convened on June 6, 2019, after classes had ended for the summer. The hearing did not conclude in our favor. Those who were in the hearing room (we were represented by counsel given the unusual nature of the proceedings and the severity of the potential sanctions) reported that the outcome was apparent from the moment the hearing convened. Their impression was that because the hazing violation occurred while the chapter was already on probation, then revocation of the undergraduate chapter's campus privileges was a foregone conclusion with the only question being the severity of the sanction. The Senate Committee revoked the chapter's status as a student organization recognized by the University for a period of two years effective June 6, 2019. The only positive element was that the revocation was limited to two years, not the five or more years common in a hazing situation involving underage use of alcohol. We explored all options to appeal the revocation imposed by the Senate Committee. Our only option was filing suit in Federal Court. We concluded that this would be a costly option with a very limited chance of success. Every indication was that the period of revocation would be over by the time we found any relief through the court system. Accordingly, the alumni board decided not to pursue further legal options and accept the revocation imposed by the Senate Committee. The revocation meant that Lambda Chi Alpha could not operate on campus. Our new chapter house would become a rooming house where members could live but could not participate in any fraternity activities, such as recruitment, initiation, or even fraternity intramural sports. As you know, we have the capacity to house approximately 70 brothers, but in spring 2018 only 40 to 45 had agreed to live in the house for the fall 2019 semester. Once word of the revocation circulated, those undergraduate members of the fraternity refused to honor

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