Leading Stories

By Morgan Givens
Staff writer

The University of West Florida has added itself to the growing list of schools around the country that have been negatively affected by misconduct from fraternities and sororities.

Effective as of Nov. 16, the Tau-Psi chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity has been suspended for five years after an investigation concluded that hazing, risk-management and alcohol-related misconduct has occurred within the Greek organization.

The Nu Eta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta sorority was also suspended for similar misconduct, but there was no mention of alcohol-related activities. The sorority is still under investigation, so as of right now they are under temporary suspension.

The investigation of the Tau-Psi chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon, which has 32 active members this school year and welcomed 10 new members just this semester reported that the misconduct occurred at an unregistered, off-campus bid day party.

The activities reported included hazing, underage drinking along with drinking games, risk management violations, common source container and coerced consumption of alcohol. A member of TKE stated in a Facebook post that the fraternity is going to appeal the suspension.

Tau Kappa Epsilon has more than 250 active chapters in the country and has welcomed more than 275,000 members in its 119-year history, with notable former members such as NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and late former president Ronald Reagan. On their website, the fraternity displays its motto, “Better Men For a Better World.”

(Photo by Morgan Givens)

The news of the suspensions was broken in a mass email directly from university President Martha Saunders. Saunders emphasized that the university takes this type of behavior seriously, and although unacceptable, it ultimately does not reflect the overall culture of fraternity and sorority life on our campus.

“Although we remain committed to the growth and success of the fraternity and sorority community at UWF,” Saunders said. “We must hold all our student organizations to the standards set forth by the University in the interest of our students’ safety and success. I expect our fraternity and sorority chapter members to take all appropriate measures to ensure that chapter activities adhere to University standards and regulations.”

Saunders also stated in the email that the university will be hosting meetings and events to discuss these issues to benefit students interested in Greek life.

The suspensions at UWF came at a time when many fraternity and sororities around the country are being heavily scrutinized for similar behaviors and with some leading to student deaths. Two of the most notable incidents just this year have involved Penn State University and Florida State University, where hazing practices and drinking a dangerous amount of alcohol led to the death of two students.

On Nov. 15, Texas State University suspended all Greek life after an alcohol-related death at an off-campus party. The same day as the suspension of UWF’s two Greek organizations, Ohio State University suspended 37 fraternities, 11 of them under investigation for student conduct violations.

Even though the activities leading to the consequences dealt to Tau Kappa Epsilon and Zeta Phi Beta are not as dire as the schools earlier stated, many students are unhappy with the announcement of the suspension, and some blame the events at FSU with its close proximity and that UWF felt pressure to take action.

I can guarantee that this is exaggeration by UWF,” UWF student Patrick Zwijnenburg said in an online discussion about the issue. “If nothing happened at FSU, then this situation would’ve ended in a few educational classes rather than a five year suspension.”

As with many issues that have appeared on the UWF Students Facebook page, there has been continuous debating since the news has broken.

“This isn’t a club, this is a brotherhood,” UWF alum Lindsey Pike said in the same online discussion. “UWF has made a bad decision due to pressure from other universities dealing with actual issues regarding their student’s safety, I assure you these are good men.”

In light of the suspensions, the Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life aims to extend President Saunders’ message to identify opportunity to work with students, advisers and other stakeholders involved in Greek life.