Phi Delta Theta put on probation for hazing, drugs, other charges

Story by Brinley Hineman, Assistant News Editor & Sarah Grace Taylor, Editor-in-Chief

MTSU’s chapter of Phi Delta Theta was put on probation in early August for violating eight campus policies. According to the report by MTSU’s Office of Judicial Affairs, the fraternity violations included multiple uses of cocaine and LSD in fraternity houses, hazing and hosting unauthorized meetings to prepare for judicial hearings while under a cease and desist.

The TN Eta chapter of Phi Delta Theta was put under cease and desist by the university in April following allegations of hazing that resulted in dual investigations performed by both MTSU and the fraternity’s national headquarters.

According to the report, the chapter violated the following university policies:

  • Threatening or disruptive conduct
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Hazing
  • Drugs
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Failure to cooperate with institutional officials
  • Aiding and abetting the commission of offenses
  • Unacceptable conduct in disciplinary proceedings

A detailed report of the incidents describes which policies were violated:

Hazing: Among their interviews with judicial affairs, new members and brothers described incidents of emotional and physical hazing in the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters. In one incident, new members were reportedly made to stand for approximately seven hours, listening to “100 Ways to Love Your Cat” and “Ring My Bell,” then aggressively sworn at and questioned about the songs.

One brother reportedly made an Asian new member teach his pledge class to say “Sweet P—y Saturday” in Japanese. In another incident, fraternity brothers took new members into the woods for a camping trip on which they were given their “big brothers” after being made to drink from the “family drink,” an unknown alcoholic beverage. On this trip, one new member was allegedly hit so hard with a log that he had to leave due to injuries, while others drank so much they reported vomiting.

Drugs: Of the fraternity’s three unofficial off-campus houses, “the white house” is considered the drug house. In the white house, one fraternity brother was found giving cocaine to two new members.  Other instances of drug use include a brother snorting cocaine in the house, two brothers having a “bad trip” on LSD and a dog eating an entire plate of pot brownies and being dubbed “frat dog for life” for surviving the drug overdose.

At one point, drugs were stolen from a brother who was dealing. The fraternity’s executive board made a point of acknowledging that stealing is wrong, but did not condemn the drug usage or dealing. MTSU Coordinator of Judicial Affairs and Mediation Services Amanda Newman Samsel wrote that the fraternity is “directly condoning illegal activity” and that this oversight was a concern for a “myriad” of reasons. Phi Delta Theta also reportedly had a “go-to” brother, formerly a leader in the fraternity, who sold marijuana out of the house to other fraternity members.

University Directives Ignored: After being placed on cease and desist for rumors of hazing, the fraternity reportedly held unauthorized meetings at which they prepared members for their interviews with judicial affairs. At these “Bible Study” meetings, leadership allegedly told members “what the judicial affairs lady knows” and what the brothers should disclose in their individual disciplinary meetings. Messages were also sent to the brothers and new members “reminding” them of what happened at the events under review.

Below is the full report:

The fraternity was placed on disciplinary probation on Aug. 11 and will remain on probation until Aug. 31, 2017. If the chapter violates any campus policies during this period, they will be immediately suspended from MTSU and forfeit university recognition. Samsel stated in the report that this is the fraternity’s “one last chance.”

Phi Delta Theta President Cole Johnson told Sidelines on Thursday that the only drug involved in the fraternity was “recreational” marijuana, but that the chapter is looking for reform.

“We’ve restructured our new member process, we’ve eliminated a lot of the problems that existed and we’re now moving forward,” Johnson said. “…it’s pretty much a 180-degree difference in how we’re going to run things, what we’re going to allow and what we’re not going to allow, and how we are going to change our judicial process.”

Johnson also said that the Phi Delta Theta headquarters conducted membership reviews; consequently, several brothers lost their membership.

Phi Delta Theta’s Director of Chapter Services Mike Wahba responded to Sidelines’ request for comment stating, “Phi Delta Theta is a values-based organization and any behavior or statements contradicting those values are subject to significant action.”

Phi Delta Theta’s probation prohibits them from participating in social activities on or off campus, tailgating or participating in homecoming activities. However, they can still recruit new members after they submit a revamped new member program that is approved by the office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. All formal and informal recruitment events must have at least one approved advisor present. Failure to abide by the approved recruitment events will be seen as a direct violation of their probation and will result in immediate suspension.

In addition to probation, Phi Delta Theta is required to complete educational sanctions that include having Johnson meet with Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Leslie Merritt to create a three-to-five year chapter improvement plan. The chapter must also sponsor a campus-wide educational program during the fall 2016 semester including a guest speaker funded by the chapter.

Phi Delta Theta was the recipient of the Interfraternity Council President’s Cup in March, the highest ranking honor a fraternity can receive at MTSU. Samsel likened the chapter to “a mirage in the desert that never exist[ed].”

Follow Assistant News Editor Brinley Hineman @_briiindle and follow Editor-in-Chief Sarah Grace Taylor @Sarah_Grace_22

For more campus news, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_News.

To contact News Editor Amanda Freuler, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com

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9 Responses

Leave a Reply
  1. Corey
    Aug 25, 2016 - 10:46 PM

    Personally, I thought the puff piece on ghosts in Tucker Theater was more realistic than this poorly written and investigated report. Oh, and just for the sake of being relevant…it’s “Sweet Pwussy Satday”.

    Reply
    • Sarah Grace Taylor | Editor-in-Chief
      Aug 25, 2016 - 11:18 PM

      Thanks for your feedback, Corey. If there’s something “poorly” written or reported that you’d like to correct is on or share more detail, we’d love to know. ☺️

      Reply
      • Fellow Greek
        Aug 26, 2016 - 12:57 AM

        Articles like these are the reasons why the MTSU greek culture will never be more than “a mirage in the desert that never existed.” No, I’m not condoming the nature of what happened, but you probably could have reached out to participants before writing the article and got both stories. That would’ve been interesting. I’m not a brother of their organization, but I bet there’s way more to the story than what the officials spoke of. It has happened with every fraternity that has been removed, including mine. You get bashed without knowing the facts. Nevertheless, RIP MTSU Greek life. You had a nice run.

        Reply
        • Brinley Hineman | Assistant News Editor
          Brinley Hineman | Assistant News Editor
          Aug 27, 2016 - 04:39 PM

          If you pay attention to the article, you’ll actually be able to note where we reached out to not one, but two people, including the president as well as their national HQ. The eight-page report is included in this article as well so readers have all the facts. If you feel like this article was written unfairly or incorrectly, you’re more than welcome to correct us.

          Reply
  2. Caulk meat
    Aug 26, 2016 - 04:10 PM

    Sounds like a rowdy bunch

    Reply
  3. Make MTSU Great Again
    Aug 26, 2016 - 10:38 PM

    They got off easy compared to the other Greek casualties of the vengeful and incompetent Samsel/Sells/McPhee administration

    Reply
  4. MakeMTSUGreatAgain
    Aug 27, 2016 - 09:06 AM

    Sounds like they got off easy compared to the other Greek casualties of the corrupt and incompetent Samsel/Sells/McPhee administration. I for one will never give a dime to the university as long as these terrible people are in power

    Reply
  5. pjmfall16
    Sep 08, 2016 - 06:12 PM

    I’ve read this article several times and the actions of Phi Delta Theta aren’t acceptable by no means but when is Sidelines going to start supporting Greek Life? I’ve been apart of Greek Life for the last four years and most of the articles that I’ve read have been about something negative. What about all the positive things that have gone on in Greek Life in the past year? I come on here every now and then to look through things and it amazes me that when I clicked on Greek Life there has only been three articles about fraternities or sororities since February 4th that are positive. This doesn’t include Donald Abels departure and the arrival of Leslie Merritt. There have been tons of positive things in Greek Life that just doesn’t get any type of headlines or articles but as soon as something bad happens, every detail is thrown out there depicting Phi Delta Theta to be a terrible group of people. In reality, they are a great group of guys that had just won the Presidents Cup for “Best Fraternity” on campus that happened to make a few bad decisions. I would just like to see Sidelines spotlight the positives more often than always relying on the negatives for views on there page.

    Reply
  6. eflmtsuf16
    Sep 09, 2016 - 03:11 PM

    First of all, I am in no way condoning the behavior of some of the members of this fraternity. I personally believe that every member should be held accountable for the actions of the chapter. The actions taken by some brothers of Phi Delta Theta fraternity are unacceptable and negatively represent Greek Life. In this case, they did not and will not get off easy. They are being required to completely revamp the way they run the fraternity in a variety of areas such as new member recruitment and judicial processes.

    Furthermore, I would love to address some positive aspects of Greek life on MTSU’s campus. Greek life is a fabulous way to get involved on campus and in your community. If it wasn’t for Greek life I would not be as involved on campus as I am now. Greek organizations are proud to be a part of this campus and promote their philanthropies as well as all the other ways to get involved.

    In conclusions, I would love to see the campus hold them to higher expectations and shed some light on the positive effects of Greek life. Not all fraternities and sororities are the stereotype that people expect them to be, they are much more than that.

    Reply

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