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11 fraternities, three sororities violated public health guidelines during pandemic, UJC report shows

The report includes 20 cases from the past decade

<p>In comparison to systems such as the University Honor System, UJC elects student judges to preside over trials equipped with the discretion to enact no sanction, one sanction or a combination of sanctions.</p>

In comparison to systems such as the University Honor System, UJC elects student judges to preside over trials equipped with the discretion to enact no sanction, one sanction or a combination of sanctions.

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The University Judiciary Committee released its first-ever comprehensive report providing data on cases processed against University organizations within the past decade earlier this month. The release was made possible by a January amendment to UJC bylaws allowing for the publication of finalized organizational case information.

The report includes 20 cases from the past decade, all of which were either for violations of University hazing policies or public health guidelines. 

Per the report, just three cases were processed prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, two of which were violations of STU-005, a University policy that prohibits hazing. The third case was a violation of UJC’s second Standard of Conduct, which prohibits actions that “intentionally or recklessly threatens the health or safety of any person” within the University community. The remaining 17 adjudicated cases consist of charges relating to violations of SEC-045.

Apart from the student body, the University Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over two types of student organizations at the University — fraternal organizations and CIOs. Fraternal organizations include social Greek letter organizations, including groups that fall under the Inter-Fraternity Council, Inter-Sorority Council, National Pan Hellenic Council and Multicultural Greek Council. CIOS are organizations that have access to Student Activities Fund disbursements.

Prior to the January amendment, UJC could share only generalized organizational and individual student case data without revealing identifying information. Now, the UJC report reveals specific case data and sanctions for cases regarding organizations. 

In total, three cases involved CIOs. In spring 2016, the Men’s Lacrosse Club pled guilty to breaching STU-005 and STU-001. In spring 2017, Trigon Engineering Society broke STU-005. STU-005 prevents hazing, while STU-001 concerns underage drinking. Finally, the a-capella group Virginia Belles violated SEC-045 most recently in spring 2021. SEC-045 outlined masking guidelines, social distancing requirements and gathering size restrictions throughout the pandemic. 

The remaining 17 cases were all filed and adjudicated between spring 2020 and spring 2021 and involved 11 Inter-Fraternity Council organizations and three Inter-Sorority Council organizations. All groups broke SEC-045, with the exception of Sigma Chi fraternity, which broke both SEC-045 and a non-COVID-19 related Standard 2 offense.

Sigma Chi was one of three organizations that appeared before UJC twice throughout the last decade, joined by other Inter-Fraternity Council organizations Pi Kappa Alpha and Pi Kappa Phi, which both violated SEC-045 twice.

As a part of the organization's commitment to “maintain and promote a community of safety, respect, and freedom” the trial panel — which consists of UJC representatives who serve as judges — considers aggravating and mitigating factors in making sanctioning decisions.

In contrast to individual cases, Lauren Kim, chair of UJC and fourth-year College student, said organization cases sometimes lack impact due changing memberships and sanctions only being felt by a portion of active members.

“With individual students, it's easy because as students, if they come to UJC, they have living memory of being at UJC, and if they come back again, they’ll be very much aware,” Kim said. “But we found that with organizations, sometimes our sanctions or trials wouldn't be passed down to the members. So we just wanted to create more visibility,”

Jackson Key, vice chair for trials and fourth-year Architecture student, headed the subcommittee tasked with the release of the report. The subcommittee began working on the report after UJC passed the bylaw revisions to allow organizational case reporting on a case-by-case basis.

Referencing the increased caseload processed by the UJC in past semesters as a result of pandemic-related policy violations, Key aimed to spread awareness of the nature of recent organizational cases, especially due to the complexity of organizational cases with many stakeholders.

“My personal hope when I was working on this [initiative] was awareness — principally, awareness and clarity,” Key said.

Slade Sinak, senior data manager and fourth-year College student, also worked with the subcommittee and expressed his determination to bring the report to fruition in order to increase visibility.

“There are significant legal restrictions on the amount of case-related information the UJC can publicly release, so when we confirmed that an organizational case release like this one was a possibility legally, we were excited to make it a reality as soon as possible,” Sinak said in an email statement to the Cavalier Daily.

The document also revealed the sanctions given to each organization, which are decided on a case-by-case basis and are considered in light of the University policies in place at the time of the infraction. 

Most first time offenders received a warning from UJC trial panelists — a sanction termed “admonition” — and community service, but groups such as Sigma Chi and Pi Kappa Phi that saw two cases within a six-month period received heavier sanctions, including social probation and Fraternal Order Agreement suspension through the following semester.

Although the report reveals the names of organizations, date of case filing and general incident details, Key emphasized the importance of concealing further personal information.

“We're supposed to make sure the organization is respected and that their personal, identifying information is kept confidential, but the essential nature of the case is able to be released,” Key said.

Full case data and a breakdown of all UJC-adjudicated organizational cases from the past ten years can be found here.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that Sigma Chi fraternity was found in violation of STU-005. Sigma Chi fraternity was not found in violation of STU-005, but rather a Standard 2 violation. The article has been updated to reflect this fact.