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Almost all Greeks on social probation

By Staff Report

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The University placed all of its major fraternities and sororities on social probation Friday,… The University placed all of its major fraternities and sororities on social probation Friday, about a week after some of their leaders were caught with alcohol at an off-campus retreat.

The sanction means that the more than 30 groups belonging to the Interfraternity Council, National Panhellenic Conference and National Pan-Hellenic Council may not “host, sponsor, co-sponsor, or participate in any social activities with non-members ANYWHERE,” according to the Student Code of Conduct.

The probation — which came during the middle of IFC’s Rush Week and the morning after the Panhel sororities accepted their new members — would seem to be a crackdown on the Greek community, which is allowed to have alcohol at some events if it does not break any laws and has permission from the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

But Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kathy Humphrey said the University only checks in on those in social probation if it receives information about a potential violation. This weekend, loud music could be heard coming from a few fraternity houses where people had gathered inside, and some members of the Greek community said they disagreed with the sanction because they didn’t think it was fair to punish entire groups for their leaders’ actions.

John Hasley, president of IFC which oversees most of Pitt’s fraternities, said he was disappointed in Pitt’s decision to discipline the Greeks who were not present at the retreat. The leaders who were at the retreat decided to take responsibility collectively.

“The University’s decision doesn’t sit right with me,” he said. “I thought the acknowledgement that we would take blame collectively meant that we would take blame collectively as those attending.”

Meanwhile, Lauren Jentleson, president of Panhel, gave a written statement saying, “The actions taken by those Greek leaders who were in attendance at the IMPACT retreat last weekend were inexcusable” and that the Greeks will try to move on while presenting “a united front.”

NPHC President Jay Oriola declined to comment.

The retreat

Collectively, the members of IFC, Panhel and NPHC call themselves the Tri-Council. Leaders from the Tri-Council groups traveled about 75 miles north of the city to Sandy Lake to attend the IMPACT leadership summit Jan. 14-16.

It was the first time the presidents of those groups attended the conference, sponsored by the North-American Interfraternity Conference, a group that offers programming for Greek groups throughout the country. The retreat was meant to foster leadership and cooperation among the Greek groups.

Pitt Greeks are allowed to have alcohol at some of their events if they do not break any laws and have prior approval from the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, according to the Student Code of Conduct. But Hasley said the leaders attending the retreat received an e-mail from Pitt administrators prior to the event telling them that alcohol would be banned at the retreat.

On Saturday night, some of the leaders — various Greeks offered numbers ranging from 2 to 90 percent of the attendees — had alcohol at a gathering on the retreat site.

Hasley said he did not drink but, “I knew what was going on. It was pretty easy to hear.” He said he did not try to break up the gathering because he thought it would cause more trouble.

The next morning, after talking to some of the retreat’s facilitators, he realized that the Greeks who were present would probably receive some sort of penalty. Hasley said they decided as a group to take any punishments collectively, but “we thought collectively meant those who were attending.”

Probation

The leaders of IFC, Panhel and NPHC learned this past Friday morning that all of their member organizations had been placed on social probation.

Multiple Greeks confirmed that the leaders who attended the retreat would have to complete the Greek Alcohol Awareness Program and pay a $75 fine. The groups would also have to write letters of apology to the retreat’s staff and notify their national organizations.

They will be removed from social probation only when IMPACT organizers deem that they have “graduated” from the program, which the Greeks were scheduled to complete on the last day of the retreat.

Hasley said he did not have a specific definition for “graduate” or a timeline for completing that process. He said he plans to meet with the other IFC members and to communicate with IMPACT organizers on Wednesday.

The social probation comes in the middle of IFC Rush Week and days after the completion of Panhel recruitment, meaning it will have an impact not only on the groups’ social lives but also on their newest members.

Dean Humphrey declined to talk about the specifics of the Tri-Council’s situation, but did offer some insights into the University’s judicial process as a whole. She said that it was part of a privacy concern for the students involved, even though some facets of the sanctions applied to entire organizations as opposed to individuals.

“Usually, we never ever comment about discipline, because it’s a part of students’ privacy,” she said.

She said she would only comment on an individual proceeding with an individual or group’s permission.

She explained how the University handles social probation. She said Student Affairs does not go out of its way to investigate organizations or individuals, but instead waits for information to be brought to it.

Then, the University would start investigating an alleged violation.

Social probation does not apply to members-only events, according to the Student Code of Conduct.

Fraternities did not stop all social gatherings over the weekend. It is unclear, though, if any of the parties at various fraternity houses around campus violated probation.

A group of about 30 people stood outside of the Tau Kappa Epsilon house on Atwood Street just before 10 p.m. Shortly after, they went inside.

By midnight, people holding red plastic cups packed the house to the windows and the sound of music drifted out.

President of the fraternity, Jarod Goreczny, said that he was not aware of any parties at the fraternity house that night. He declined to comment further.

At the Delta Tau Delta house Saturday night, about 20 people danced in one of the main rooms, where multicolored lights flashed through the dark and people could be seen holding red plastic cups. Chris Fetter, the group’s president, said that only fraternity brothers attended.

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Almost all Greeks on social probation