IFC, ISC investigate alleged violations

The temporary suspension of Kappa Alpha Order and Zeta Psi Fraternity by the University's Inter-Fraternity Council has triggered widespread and immediate response from the entire Greek community.

The fraternities currently face charges by the IFC and their national headquarters for displaying racially offensive costumes during a joint Halloween party.

According to Aaron Laushway, assistant dean of students and director of fraternity and sorority life, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Kappa Alpha Theta sororities also are being investigated.

"Kappa Kappa Gamma expects it members to promote integrity and respect for others and appreciation for the worth of all individuals," Kappa Kappa Gamma President Sarah Wilson said.

Kappa Alpha Theta President Ginna Innamorati declined to comment on the investigation.

According to a press release issued by Kappa Alpha's National Administrative Office, the fraternity will remain suspended until the office completes its own investigation of current allegations. Zeta Psi has been placed on social probation indefinitely by its national headquarters. In addition, both fraternities have been temporarily suspended by the IFC.

IFC Judiciary Committee Chairman Zach Terwilliger said fraternities suspended by the IFC cannot attend meetings of the IFC Presidents' Council, participate in IFC rush nor receive IFC party control regulation.

The fraternities, officially suspended for violating IFC-JC by-laws restricting indecent conduct at fraternity sponsored functions, have "both agreed they want to handle this quickly," Terwilliger said. "We are aiming to conclude our investigation by the end of the week."

Following the investigation, the IFC-JC will determine whether to hold further trial proceedings. If an implicated fraternity admits guilt, it likely will face a hearing panel, expediting the judicial process. Otherwise, the fraternity could be placed on trial, which would require longer deliberation. Judicial proceedings could begin as early as next week, Terwilliger added.

The Inter-Sorority Council launched an independent investigation last night to assess whether any of its organizations were involved with offensive activities at the party, ISC President Whitney Eck said.

In a press release issued yesterday, the ISC states it "recognizes that ISC members attended the October 31, 2002 Halloween party involving culturally insensitive behavior," while neither "condoning nor tolerating this alleged behavior."

"This is an unfortunate incident for the Greek system," Eck said. "The ISC views this as a very serious issue."

In addition, the State of the Greek System Address -- a collaborative event of the four Greek councils scheduled for last night -- was postponed after discussion among students, executive officers and members of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said Chris McGill, one of the office's program coordinators.

The decision was made in response to problems facing all four councils, including the recent death of Multi-Cultural Greek Council member Jack Chen of Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity.

"I believe there are issues affecting all four councils that suggest a need for postponement until next semester," Laushway said.

Black Fraternity Council Co-Chairman Michael Dunkley said he feels the decision was appropriate.

According to Dunkley, the address hoped to solidify the various councils across racial lines, but recent events have "put discrimination at the forefront." The BFC co-chairmen agree education is crucial in tackling the current dilemma.

"We don't want history to keep repeating itself," BFC Co-Chairman Rowland Webb said.

Dunkley said focusing on prevention, rather than the incident itself, is the most beneficial approach.

"Education is the first step in getting rid of ignorance, and by implementing diversity as a core value of the University, we can get rid of these problems," he said.

At Auburn University, where similar incidents occurred at Halloween parties last year, the fraternities involved experienced many of the repercussions currently facing Kappa Alpha and Zeta Psi. Although temporarily suspended, the fraternities eventually were admitted back after agreeing to perform community service and pledge support for diversity issues, said Jim Hardin, senior programming advisor for student life at Auburn University. According to Hardin, one of the fraternities filed a lawsuit against Auburn for violating its First Amendment rights, but the matter was settled out of court.

The University is not the only institution now facing charges of racially offensive actions at fraternity events.

Both the University of Tennessee and Oklahoma State University are experiencing similar difficulties, following offensive racial acts at fraternity Halloween parties this year, Hardin added.

Officials from the two universities were available to comment.

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