Binghamton University has released a list of disciplinary actions handed down to Greek Life over the last academic year, including sanctions against six fraternities, three of which were suspended.
Alpha Chi Rho (AXP) and Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) each had their charter suspended until 2018, effectively closing the two organizations until all current members graduate. Alpha Sigma Phi had its charter suspended until 2015.
According to the press release, each suspension was, in part, for hazing. Pipe Dream filed a freedom of information law request for all documents related to the University’s investigations, but has yet to receive a response.
Delta Chi and Nu Alpha Phi also received sanctions related to hazing, though their punishments were less severe. Nu Alpha Phi was placed on disciplinary probation through 2017 and is not allowed to initiate new members until September 2014.
Delta Chi was placed on disciplinary warning, the lowest possible action the University can take. Additionally, Pi Lamda Phi, was placed on final probation until May 2014 for pledging non-Binghamton University students.
Dean of Students April Thompson said the sanctions for hazing varied for each chapter based on the severity of the claims.
“A lot of these things were hazing, but they got very different outcomes,” Thompson said. “I think that’s actually a positive testament to our conduct system, because it shows they take organizations as individual, not as a blanket [where] all hazing equals a certain punishment — because it doesn’t.”
Each case was reviewed by a judicial board composed of one University staff member, one faculty member and one student.
Zach Stein, the former president of AXP, declined to comment on the specific claims against his fraternity. The University began investigating AXP last semester after a disaffiliated member cooperated with administrators and accused AXP of first-semester pledging, crossing new members while the chapter was suspended and physically fighting in front of blindfolded pledges.
The presidents of Zeta Beta Tau, Nu Alpha Phi and Pi Lamda Phi could not be reached for comment. The president of Alpha Sigma Phi, Ben Roth, would say only that he disagrees with the University’s decisions and the chapter plans to appeal.
Delta Chi was sanctioned for asking pledges to perform push-ups for incorrectly answering questions about the fraternity’s history. Jason Comroe, the president of the of Delta Chi and an undeclared sophomore, said the push-ups were voluntary.
He added that he expects the fraternity’s national organization to restore its recognition of the chapter, which was suspended last month pending an investigation into the hazing allegations, and that he does not plan to appeal the University’s decision.
Dean Thompson said each investigation began only after the University received a complaint from an external source, which administrators would then followed up on.
“These are all things that were reported to our offices,” she said. “I hope people don’t see this as a witch hunt or trying to shut down. We really are trying to help these organizations in being successful.”
Alex Liu, the Interfraternity Council president, said the administration handled the cases from this semester — with the notable exceptions of AXP and ZBT — fairly and followed protocol. However, Liu said he would still like to see greater transparency from the University.
“The administration can become more transparent by involving the presidents of individual fraternities in any discussions affecting Greek Life,” said Liu, a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and law. “They also can reveal more of their agenda and long-term goals to Greek Life, which I believe would dispel any fears that exist and encourage more trust.”
In addition, nine students, mostly chapter officers, were held individually accountable for misconduct related to Greek Life, which Liu worried could discourage strong candidates from taking leadership positions for fear of being held legally responsible.
“If individuals are to be charged in cases, then the fraternity they are affiliated with should not be disciplined since the guilt has been established to be on one person,” he said. “On the other hand, if fraternities are to be disciplined as a whole then individuals should not be charged since the entire organization is being held accountable for the guilt.”
In response to charges that the University is pushing Greek Life off campus by punishing recognized fraternities while non-recognized fraternities such as APES and Sammy continue to operate freely, Thompson said there is only so much she can do.
APES or Sammy are not recognized as groups by the University, and thus the cannot be held responsible on the organizational level. However, Thompson said she said she would investigate any claims against individual members and respond accordingly.
She also said she believes the benefits of being on campus, such as the ability to put Greek Life membership on a resumé, outweigh the alternatives of foregoing campus recognition.