After being suspended by Binghamton University and their national headquarters, Alpha Chi Rho is locked in a battle of he-said, she-said with a disaffiliated member cooperating with administrators.
A representative from the national AXP headquarters said they are working with the University to conduct their investigation. AXP has been ordered to suspend all fraternity activity pending the outcome of the investigations.
The University began investigating AXP, unrelated to pledging violations, following the Binghamton Police Department’s raid of AXP’s off-campus residence on Oct. 13 that resulted in the arrest of two fraternity members: Interfraternity Council President Zach Stein and Matthew Opramolla, a junior majoring in English.
Following the arrest, Opramolla asked the members of the fraternity for money to help pay his legal fees. Contention between Opramolla, who has since disaffiliated himself from the fraternity, and AXP members about what happened next leaves the actual exchange between the two groups in a nebulous haze.
What seems apparent, however, is that following a string of disputes, largely money-related, Opramolla decided to tell Dean of Students April Thompson his side — which almost entirely contradicts the claims of AXP — about his dissatisfaction with AXP as well as the conduct violations of the AXP pledging process.
Opramolla said his decision stemmed from the lack of brotherhood within the fraternity, not spite or a vengeful personality.
“A lot of people don’t understand the concept of brotherhood,” he said. “There’s a few people still that embody those ideals and stuff but the large majority doesn’t and that’s sad.”
Although Opramolla refused to go into the specifics he reported to Thompson, he told Pipe Dream that the violations included first-semester pledging, brothers physically fighting in front of blindfolded pledges and crossing pledges following the suspension of the chapter.
Opramolla said the majority of pledges since he joined AXP as a first-semester freshman in fall 2010 have been first-semester freshmen as well.
“Personally I don’t care about the hazing, you know. I’ve participated in it, I think if you’re pledging a fraternity, you gotta expect that kind of stuff,” Opramolla said. “So that’s something they did, and that’s something they should be held accountable for — if not paying me the money.”
Members of AXP disputed each of these claims, including the claim that their pledges crossed following their suspension.
“Those are all false allegations, completely false,” one member said. “We did not cross any pledges, the school sanctioned us and told us to suspend all pledging and we complied.”
The financial disagreements between Opramolla and AXP, which may have began over his legal fees — Opramolla said he comes from a single-parent household, and his mother was required to take out a loan to cover the costs — but it was exacerbated by his decision to move out of the AXP house near the end of October.
Opramolla contended that some of his roommates in the AXP residence refused to pay their share of household bills that were in Opramolla’s name. Members of AXP said the costs were counterbalanced by the extra rent they were required to pay following his departure.
Opramolla noted that he does not believe hazing at AXP is particularly severe compared to other fraternities on campus.
“It wasn’t a problem, I do feel like if people, some of the pledges didn’t feel comfortable, I think we’d recognize it,” Opramolla said. “I don’t think it was horrible compared to some of the stuff you hear.”
Interfraternity Council President Zach Stein, a member of AXP, said Jordan Roth will serve as interim IFC president until the investigations are concluded. He declined to comment further.
Pipe Dream could not reach Roth for comment.