DKE Heavily Sanctioned; Greeks Get Stern Warning

The Greek Judicial Board has handed down heavy sanctions to Delta Kappa Epsilon as punishment for what it found to be violations of alcohol policy. The board cited two violations held at a party just more than two weeks after the death of DKE President Courtland Smith and during a period in which the fraternity already was facing an investigation by the University and the judicial board.

The judicial board’s one-year social probation also covered what it called an extensive two-year record of violations.

Greeks at UNC appear to be coming under increased scrutiny for bad behavior. On Sept. 20, at an annual meeting for new fraternity members, Winston Crisp ’92 (JD), assistant vice chancellor for student affairs, used strong language in challenging the pledges to help the Greeks turn away from their reputation for alcohol, drug and sexual abuse.

“If you don’t, times are changing, and the organizations are either going to change with them or not survive,” Crisp told the group. “The days when my office is willing to stand in the breach [are] over. I’m tired of looking like a damn idiot. I’m tired of standing up for you and having you spit in my face.

“The tolerance of the University of cleaning up disasters on a weekly basis is over.”

Crisp was quoted by The Daily Tar Heel. In an interview three days later, he stood by the statements and said he was quoted accurately. Crisp cautioned that the University community should not get the impression that the bad behavior was unique to Greeks. And, having told the group that UNC’s relations with its Greeks were at an all-time low, he added, “There is some level of hyperbole in a speech like that.”

But, he said, “There is rarely a weekend that goes by that we’re not responding to some incident that’s fueled by alcohol abuse or drugs or some reports of sexual abuse.”

On Sept. 15, five current or former students were arrested, some on cocaine trafficking charges and some on the lesser charge of cocaine possession. One of the students was a member of Chi Omega; another person arrested is not currently enrolled but is a former member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Members of DKE and across the Greek system were shocked by the violent Aug. 23 death of Smith, who was shot by a police officer at a traffic stop in Randolph County after he was heard on a 911 call telling a dispatcher that he had been drinking and that he had a gun and was considering suicide. Smith had attended a party at DKE hours earlier. That incident is under investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation.

In its decision on sanctions for DKE, the judicial board wrote, “The Chapter’s two violations the night of September 10, 2009, during a period of time in which they were already under University and GJB investigations, signaled to the board disrespect for the seriousness of the judicial process.”

The one-year social probation will include all formals, informals, mixers, cocktails, tailgates and alumni events for the fall 2009 and spring 2010 semesters. The sanction is scheduled to be lifted May 7, the last day of exams.

The judicial board also forwarded the DKE chapter to the Fraternity and Sorority Standards Review Board. This body is a team of people on a local, campus, alumni and national level holding the option, if warranted, to remove recognition of a fraternity’s or sorority’s chapter. The review is expected to be completed by the end of October.

DKE also will have its pledge period shortened to four weeks from eight weeks.

The judicial board cited sanctions that are yet to be completed from a fire violation last year as another contributing factor in its ruling. It also adopted self-imposed sanctions proposed by DKE, such as the 2009-10’s social budget being spent to sponsor and build the Courtland Benjamin Smith Memorial Habitat for Humanity House. The chapter also will implement positions for three new vice presidents and a mandatory substance-abuse prevention program.

Jenny Levering, assistant dean of students for fraternity and sorority life, said she hopes the self-governing decision can have a positive effect on the Greek system. “Though a rough start to the year,” she said, “it’s an opportunity to do a lot of work to build a stronger Greek community.”

The Carolina administration wants to continue to maintain the system in place for Greeks to self-govern and self-regulate, Levering said. “We want to uphold the honor system and the student self-governance system to the best we can,” she said.

The Greeks are self-governing through four separate organizations:

  • the Interfraternity Council, which covers 22 fraternities that typically own houses;
  • the Panhellenic Council, covering sororities;
  • the Greek Alliance Council, which covers religious and multicultural-based fraternities and sororities that typically do not have houses; and
  • the National Panhellenic Council, which covers eight historically African-American fraternities and sororities.

The second line of governance, for more serious offenses, is the dean of students office. Crisp, in his Sept. 20 talk (which was limited to the IFC pledges), was participating in an annual event. He was invited to speak on the subjects of drug abuse and hazing.

The honor system also can factor in for suspected honor code violations. The IFC houses are all private, located off campus.

“He was making it clear that there is a breaking point,” Interfraternity Council President Charlie Winn said, “that if things continue happening, especially if attention is on the system like it is now, there is nothing he can do.”

Characterizing Crisp’s tone and message as serious, Winn said the dean’s message was a much-needed warning of how Greek life can be perceived in light of recent events.

“I think it was an appropriate message at the meeting,” Winn said. “Dean Crisp is always standing up for us, talking about the positives. His messages, given all the things that have been happening” serves to remind the pledges to think about the public perceptions of fraternity life.

Crisp said that his talk was “a tough, in-your-face challenge to change those behaviors.” He said it was difficult to quantify problems with drugs, alcohol and hazing. Emphasizing that the problems are not exclusive to Greeks but that students living in residence halls have a significantly higher level of University supervision, he elaborated on each:

“There is clearly an alcohol problem here, as there is on every college campus in America.” He specified the problem as binge drinking — drinking to get drunk.

Crisp said he could not say whether drug abuse is in a surge period. He added that one relatively new issue is prescription drugs — “That appears to be an emergent, deepening problem.”

On hazing he said that “more than not,” the 22 IFC fraternities “are doing what we want. Is hazing a problem? Yes. Is it a problem in every single organization? No.”

— David E. Brown ’75 and Chris Saunders

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