After a celebration this weekend marking 50 years for the Mu Upsilon chapter of Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) fraternity at Miami University, members learned of its university suspension in a meeting Sunday night.
After accepting responsibility for allegations of hazing at an administrative hearing Monday, April 9, the chapter was suspended until August 2008, according to Susan Vaughn, director of the Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution.
According to Vaughn, hearings consist of two parts. The first is an opportunity to find facts about the incident in question. Because Fiji admitted to the allegations against them, this part of the hearing was not extensive, according to Vaughn.
The second part of the hearing process determines what will be an appropriate sanction. Vaughn said it is during this part that members of organizations will discuss their redeeming qualities.
“This is where they can talk about all the good things the chapter does,” Vaughn said.
She added that Fiji has attempted to put focus on the fact that they do a lot of community service – something they won an award for April 1.
Some alumni were present at the hearing as moral support for the chapter.
Vaughn said the fraternity has five working days after the first hearing to appeal any decisions, but the chapter chose to accept responsibility for their actions instead.
J.B. Goll, director of chapter services at the fraternity’s international headquarters, said the chapter will basically cease to exist.
“The reality is that all of the current brothers of the fraternity will become alumni status,” Goll said. “They are all still brothers, but they don’t have the privileges of an undergraduate chapter. It’s effectively closed.”
As far as their interactions with Miami are concerned, the members will not be able to rent space, raise funds, or do anything else associated with Phi Gamma Delta.
Goll was one of the national staff members who visited the chapter March 25-27 and documented hazing and two instances of giving pledges alcohol. He and Dennis DiTullio were contacted by the university after the actions of the fraternity became a cause for concern.
According to Vaughn, hazing charges revolved around an incidence March 6 where Hueston Woods State Park rangers reported that students were left in the park not knowing where they were or how to get home. Goll declined to comment on this aspect of the suspension.
Kevin McGraw, the chapter’s adviser, previously stated the suspension was related to a pledge activity, Running of the Bulls, where students dress in white with red sashes and race down Slant Walk.
In an e-mail Vaughn said that the fraternity will have to submit a reorganization plan before August 2008 to the Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution, as well as to the Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternal Life and Leadership.
Their plan must detail a new member education program and general risk management programs related to topics like hazing, alcohol, and drug abuse.
Vaughn added that if the fraternity experiences any further incidents during their suspension it could be detrimental to their return because it would involve additional university disciplinary proceedings.
Fiji’s alumni corporation will close the house at the end of the semester.
Members of the Miami chapter declined to comment.