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
- 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].”