Miami University’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) is investigating the Phi Kappa Tau (Phi Tau) and Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternities following reports that both fraternities recruited new members during formal recruitment two weeks ago.
According to sources familiar with the situation, the IFC investigation will look into whether the fraternities engaged in underground rushing where bids are given out to new members, even though the fraternities are serving suspensions issued in December by Miami.
“There’ve been reports of people doing underground things,” Eddy Hribar, IFC vice president of public relations, said. “[The fraternities are] suspended so they can’t be a part of [recruitment]. Obviously they’re under our recognition because they’re suspended but as far as their actions go and things like that, that’s not something we can monitor to a T.”
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Scott Walter said he heard IFC is looking into matters of unofficial recruitment, but said no official reports have reached Student Affairs.
Hribar said IFC and the university are equally involved in looking into the allegations.
“All it takes is an allegation … where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” Hribar said.
Sources said IFC does not have hard facts at this point but has heard through word-of-mouth that both fraternities had their fraternity house doors open during formal recruitment.
Recruiting new members through underground rushing would be in violation of the fraternities’ suspensions.
IFC and fraternity presidents will vote whether to reinstate Phi Tau this April and SAE in April 2014. According to Hribar, these allegations could impact whether the fraternities are reinstated to IFC.
“When [these fraternities] become reevaluated it might weigh not in their favor,” Hribar said. “It’s kind of one of those things where if your name is still being brought up even after you’re suspended, it’s not going to look good when you’re reevaluated; it doesn’t really prove that you’ve learned your lesson.”
Director of University News and Communications Claire Wagner said she is not familiar with reports of unofficial recruitment conducted by Phi Tau or SAE during formal recruitment.
Associate Director of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution Chris Taylor also said he was not aware of either fraternity conducting unofficial recruitment.
According to Phi Kappa Tau Chief Executive Officer Steve Hartman, the national chapter did not give Miami’s chapter permission to recruit new members.
“Our goal is to get reinstated with good status with the IFC and the university,” Hartman said. “There’ve been several men who have come forward with interest in joining. We have communicated to them that we won’t extend bids until we’re back in good graces. That’s been our goal.”
Hartman said the fraternity has allowed meetings between staff, alumni and current students on campus to discuss plans for recruitment upon reinstatement.
“We’ve communicated to the university that we don’t intend to violate our suspension,” Hartman said.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s Regional Director Joshua Welch said the fraternity would issue an official statement this week.
Phi Kappa Tau is suspended through August 2013 and Sigma Alpha Epsilon is suspended through August 2014.
Miami issued the suspensions following an investigation into an August incident where fireworks were detonated in the fraternity houses.
The university said the chapters violated sections of Miami’s Code of Student Conduct, including drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of fireworks and disorderly conduct.
Phi Tau filed a lawsuit against its suspension in fall 2012 and the university filed a motion to dismiss the case, according to Wagner.
The court has yet to issue a decision.