The lead editorial published in today’s Cavalier Daily, “Maintain zero tolerance,” importantly supports the action taken by Dean Groves in response to apparent gross misconduct at Sigma Nu and PIKA. (The misconduct was apparently more severe than had originally be reported in the newspaper.) Such action as terminating the FOA would not have been taken without a thorough investigation by the ODOS and based on very serious misconduct. Fraternities at the University are a long-standing tradition of more than 150 years and provide an important part of University life. The continuance of the system is important to not only undergraduates but also to the alumni who became members as undergraduates and developed friendships during their years at the University which remain important to many. Notably, fraternity alumni provide a significant part of the alumni giving to the University.
The article mentioned that fraternities had been banned at three New England colleges — Williams, Middlebury and Amherst. I hasten to note that such action, which occurred decades ago, was not based so much on gross misconduct as on the misguided view of administrators at the time that fraternities were inherently bad. Likewise the SAE national new policy of banning any pledge education process is misguided. Simply bringing first-years into an organization without an appropriate period of learning about the fraternity, its culture and heritage, is short-sighted at best, and may lead to longer-term problems for the SAE national.
The alumni of each fraternity need to play an appropriate role in providing guidance to the undergraduate leadership to help ensure that gross misconduct does not occur, that houses operate in a safe and fiscally responsible way, and that the physical structures of the houses remain safe and sanitary. In this regard the University’s Fraternity Alumni Council plays an important advisory role for the ODOS.
Hopefully the alumni of PIKA and Sigma Nu will be able to assist with the restructuring of the Houses to ensure that their FOAs can be reinstated in the not-too-distant future.
Harry R. Marshall, Jr. ’61
Chevy Chase, Maryland