Ohio State has suspended all activities for Interfraternity Council chapters, effective immediately, the university said Thursday in a letter to IFC presidents. Eleven fraternity chapters have been investigated this semester by Ohio State for violations of the code of student conduct.
Dave Isaacs, a spokesman for the Office of Student Life, told The Lantern the majority of conduct investigations involve hazing and alcohol.
“The university will not tolerate behavior that puts the health and safety of its students at risk,” Isaacs said in a statement.
For now, the suspension includes all chapter activities. Chapter presidents are responsible for submitting a list of “essential activities” by Nov. 20 to the university.
Those lists are then reviewed by the university and need approval before activities continue.
“Until then, you are not to engage in any activities,” the letter from Ryan Lovell, the university’s senior director for sorority and fraternity life, read.
One by one, fraternities at Ohio State have been slapped with various sanctions this semester as part of the university’s increased crack down on Greek life.
Ohio State decided to punish all IFC chapters, not just those being investigated for conduct violations.
“When individual members or organizations fail to live up to the standards and values set forth by the university, your chapters and your international organizations, the entire Greek community suffers,” Lovell wrote.
Ohio State’s decision to suspend all activities for IFC chapters comes four days after The Lantern requested confirmation from the Office of Student Life regarding the conduct violations of four additional fraternities. Those four fraternities are part of the 11 total under investigation this semester.
The university said conduct by Greek fraternities has become concerning, with 11 out of 37 IFC chapters either under investigation or have been investigated this semester.
Isaacs said this is the most cases the university has investigated in recent years. Lovell called it “an unacceptably high number.”
IFC at Ohio State makes up a majority of the men’s fraternities on campus.
Ohio State’s IFC president Drew Cooper said the council will work with the university moving forward.
“The health and safety of members of the Ohio State community is our top priority,” Cooper said in a statement. “We commit to collaborating with parents, the University, chapters, and their national or international headquarters to advance safety and accountability in our Ohio State fraternity system. We will continue to advocate for the advancement of tangible solutions to the problems that exist within our community.”
The suspension now in place only applies to IFC and not the Panhellenic Association, or PHA, which is the governing body for women’s sororities. It also does not include Multicultural Greek Council chapters.
Rumors of hazing in Greek communities swirled early on in the semester. The suspension now confirms what many were already talking about.
Following the death of Timothy Piazza, who was in the process of joining a fraternity at Penn State University, Ohio State is the latest college or university to crack down on Greek life throughout the country. Greek life activities at Penn State, the University of Michigan, Florida State University and Texas State have been sanctioned.
Penn State suspended all Greek life activity last spring. Florida State and Texas State suspended all fraternity and sorority activities recently following the deaths of a student pledging a fraternity. Michigan’s IFC suspended its own activities.
Many of the fraternities currently under investigation are repeat offenders. Tau Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Alpha Mu were suspended last month. Tau Kappa Epsilon was suspended from the university for one year in 2001 following an investigation that found the chapter participated in hazing and other “poor behavior.” Sigma Alpha Mu was suspended from campus in 2013 after it failed to comply with university or civil authority, alcohol and disorderly or disruptive conduct sections of the Student Code of Conduct.
With Ohio State’s last home football game Saturday against the University of Illinois, fraternity and sorority row on East 15th Avenue will be much quieter this weekend.
The university made clear in its letter just what activities are considered “essential” and which are not.
“Essential activities may include, but are not limited to, standing chapter/executive board meetings and/or long standing philanthropic events,” the letter states. “Social activities of any kind are not essential activities, nor are any activities that include alcohol.”
With the semester coming to a close soon and new member recruitment, or rush season, on the horizon in January, it is unclear how long the social activity suspension will last.
“This action will allow the IFC community to pause to reflect and create individual, actionable strategies to ensure that the culture of their organization is aligned with the stated values of Ohio State’s Greek community, responsibilities outlined in the university’s Code of Student Conduct and expectations of their respective national or international organization,” Isaacs said.
Nick Clarkson contributed to this story.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.