Colorado State University officials today announced they have accepted the recommendation of the Greek Judicial Board and will withdraw university recognition for the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and the Alpha Chi Omega sorority following an incident in the homecoming parade and recent actions of the national organizations for the two groups.
The university action follows the unanimous vote last night by the board of student fraternity and sorority members. That vote was preceded by a move this week by the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity’s national organization to suspend the local chapter and place it in an alumni receivership. Last week, Alpha Chi Omega sorority members voted to close the local chapter, a decision approved by the national organization.
Today’s announcement follows an incident in the recent homecoming parade, in which a mannequin dressed as a scarecrow, defaced with offensive graffiti, was displayed on a float sponsored by the two organizations. The disciplinary process has centered on the actions of fraternity and sorority members that violated university parade regulations, as well as members misleading university officials about the float, and other violations culminating in the display of the scarecrow.
As private organizations, fraternities and sororities at the Colorado State University campus are under the direct control of their national or international organizations and are recognized by but not affiliated with or operated by the university.
While the judicial board voted unanimously to recommend the withdrawal of recognition, the board also said it is possible for both organizations to regain their status at the university. However, such reinstatement would not even be considered for at least one academic year, and would not be considered until the organizations committed to completing relevant educational programs, community service activities and reform efforts.
"By recommending the withdrawal of recognition, the Greek Judicial Board has taken the most severe action it can take. This move indicates that we as a student board understand the serious nature of what happened, and also understand our responsibility to the university and to our Greek system," said Zach Bird, chairman of the student governing board. "I’m proud of the way that we as students have responded to such a heated situation, and am confident that we have responded appropriately, with the best interests of the university, the Greek system and the students in mind at all times."
The decision of the Greek Judicial Board can be appealed to Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council, although neither organization has indicated any plans to appeal.
"We as a university must advance our charge to create a welcoming environment for all who choose to work and study here. The actions by the Greek Judicial Board show that we mean it," said Keith Miser, vice president for student affairs.
"As an educational institution, we support the notion that even in the face of this horrible incident, some learning can occur. This was a serious incident, actually involving a handful of students, and the entire university community has responded with outrage," Miser said. "There had to be, and there was, an appropriate and severe response. To simply banish these organizations, however, would foster a continuing cycle of hate and resentment. We can do better. And we can take this opportunity to promote real learning."
The university also announced that the hearing process involving the 11 students linked to the incident still is ongoing. No announcement about individual sanctions is permitted under federal privacy standards. To protect the individual rights, the university will release all disciplinary actions in one announcement. All students involved in the judicial process are given a hearing, with legal counsel present if they desire. All decisions by the judicial affairs officer can be appealed to a panel of faculty and students.
The acceptance by the university of the vote by the Greek Judicial Board means neither organization will be recognized by the university, neither will be able to use university facilities, nor participate in university-sanctioned activities.