Miriam PercivalNews Editor
This story has been corrected since its original publication.
The disciplinary committee and Office of Community Standards and Conduct found Chi Phi responsible for hazing that occurred at a party off campus. The fraternity has been placed on deferred suspension until 2021.
The investigation began Oct. 17, four days after the incident, and ended Jan. 11 after the disciplinary committee heard the case.
Deferred suspension means that if the fraternity fails to meet any requirement or is investigated again, the campus chapter may be shut down. The disciplinary committee consists of students and faculty who review cases of misconduct for the university. Chi Phi elected to bring their case in front of this committee after the Office of Community Standards and Conduct presented their initial punishment.
Justin Adler, the former president of Chi Phi, said the incident under review involved a fraternity member who encouraged new recruits at the social gathering to do wall-sits while reciting the creed.
This activity counts as hazing according to UTD’s definition because exercise was involved.
Adler said this was done by a single person and does not reflect the fraternity as a whole.
“It was an act of an individual, we didn’t sanction it, but it was going to require an investigation, we understand that,” Adler said. “(The member) is going through a huge membership review and we’re actually kind of hands off. Our national office is dealing with that.”
During the investigation, which lasted four months, all official fraternity activities and communications were put on hold.
Megan Schaedel, director of community standards and conduct, said her office conducted its investigation by collecting evidence and gathering statements from Chi Phi members.
“When we call people in, we ask people similar questions so that we can compare answers and often times you see a pattern where there is absolutely what happened,” she said. “Sometimes you can tell who may not be totally honest but it often just comes out because we are calling so many people in instead of one person.”
Once the Office of Community Standards and Conduct reviewed the evidence collected through its investigation, they recommended a decision.
“The original sanction was that we would be placed on suspension until Jan. 1, 2019,” Adler said. “No actives or alumni would be allowed to recolonize the chapter when we came off suspension. We actually (would have) had to reapply through the FSL recruitment process, we (wouldn’t have been) just immediately reinstated.”
The OCSC based its decision on similar cases reviewed in the past At this point, Chi Phi elected to bring the case to the discipline committee to dispute the charge and findings.
“We essentially compiled all of the evidence that we had showing that we had trained our brothers not to haze and that was the heart of the argument,” Adler said. “That the organization itself didn’t haze anyone, just an individual who was a member of the organization.”
On Jan. 11, Chi Phi and the Office of Community Standards and Conduct presented their case to the discipline committee. Once both sides were heard, the committee passed down the deferred sanction and accepted the terms Chi Phi and their national office created together.
“We put together an alternative sanction … then when our national office came down (they assisted) us with the sanctions. They actually took those and wrote them a little bit better than we did,” Adler said. “We were very happy to accept as a sanction … they were very manageable requests.”
If the fraternity fails to meet any of these requirements or violates the code of conduct before 2021, they will be considered for suspension or immediate shutdown of the chapter.
Nick Hinojosa, former Chi Phi adviser and president of the alumni association, said he views this as a learning experience for the members of the fraternity.
“Honestly you see or hear something like this, it makes you worry that the organization that you joined and helped create as an undergrad isn’t the same that was,” he said. “But if anything it has proven to me that these guys are truly upstanding and wonderful guys.”
Steven Larsen, the Chi Phi president, said the chapter is creating policies to help prevent hazing from taking place again.
“We’re going to set up proactive ways to teach the members this is something you can say no to if it happens, if it happens report it and also teach the brothers the consequences of this,” he said.
Overall, Adler said he feels like the process was fair and wants to begin mending relations with the university.
“We don’t want to miss a beat, we want to get right back into operation,” he said.