Two Ohio State fraternities were put on probation in February after violating the Code of Student Conduct, according to decisions letters from the Office of Student Life.
The decision letters show that Alpha Tau Omega and Sigma Phi Epsilon are both on social probation until March 31, with the former under disciplinary probation until May 5, 2020, and the latter until Dec. 15 of this year.
“As has always been the case, all Ohio State sorority and fraternity chapters are expected to uphold the Code of Student Conduct, our community’s Standards of Excellence and all of the governing rules, guidelines and regulations that have been set forth by the university, national organizations and local chapters,” Dave Isaacs, spokesman for the Office of Student Life, said.
Alpha Tau Omega
Alpha Tau Omega was put on probation Feb. 15 for violating the Alcohol, Endangering Behavior and Hazing sections of the code of conduct.
The letter said that the fraternity allegedly violated the code of conduct throughout the autumn 2018 semester, and specifically on Oct. 19.
Alpha Tau Omega was found to have provided alcohol to new members and/or allowing or encouraging new members to consume alcohol, including members under the age of 21 during their social events.
The fraternity also assigned new members specific tasks as a part of their new member experience, according to the letter. Examples included making them wear a toga to social events, requiring and/or encouraging new members to clean the fraternity house and annex house, communicating the weather each day with the chapter, serving as a scribe during meetings, and/or providing scheduled motivation to the chapter.
The letter also detailed a “Zip Tie party,” where new members were given short notice to find a date who they were then zip tied to during the social event and expected to finish a bottle of liquor between the two of them. Once the bottle was empty the new member and guest were cut from the zip tie, some of which were under the age of 21.
The chapter proposed implementing a social probation “in hopes of minimizing risk in a period to comprehensively re-evaluate your risk management policies to ensure the prevention of the previously accepted violations from occurring in future social environments,” according to the letter.
Alpha Tau Omega hosting privileges will resume April 1 through May 5, where they will be limited to having a maximum of four events where alcohol is available, with events only occurring at a third-party vendor where licensed and insured security is present.
While on disciplinary probation, the chapter must hire a trained and insured security service and third-party bartender for events when alcohol will be available. The letter notes that chapter members had previously served as security to check IDs and as bartenders.
The chapter also proposed to attend seven additional chapter-wide alcohol, hazing and sexual assault education programs.
The letter included a statement from Alpha Tau Omega that said, “Our chapter would benefit from programming with lawyers and law enforcement to make our members aware of the legal ramifications involved with their individual actions and the actions of the organization.”
Alpha Tau Omega did not respond for comment by time of publication.
Sigma Phi Epsilon
Sigma Phi Epsilon was put on probation Feb. 28 for violating the Alcohol policy of the code of conduct.
According to the letter, the fraternity allegedly pooled funds to purchase alcohol for chapter social events, where alcohol was provided to anyone in attendance for four years. There was no regulation on the distribution of alcohol; and members and guests under the legal drinking age were served.
The fraternity will have hosting privileges again, beginning April 1 through May 5, where they will be limited to having a maximum of four events where alcohol is available, with events only occurring at a third-party vendor where licensed and insured security is present.
Sigma Phi Epsilon was also using members as bartenders and security, according to the letter.
The fraternity proposed to hold two presentations during chapter meetings that relate to the incident in question, with topic areas including “Risk Management and Policies” and “Creating a Culture of Accountability and High Standards.”
“Sigma Phi Epsilon has worked in close partnership with our chapter and Ohio State to review this issue and use this time to enhance health and safety measures for members and guests,” Heather Kirk, chief communications officer for the national Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, said in a statement. “Additionally, SigEp home at OSU is a fully substance-free facility to best foster a safe environment.”
A sorority and fraternity are also currently under investigation for which they were both placed on interim suspension for undisclosed reasons.
Isaacs said the Zeta Phi Beta chapter at Ohio State has been placed on interim suspension March 15, pending an ongoing investigation by Student Conduct in the Office of Student Life, where they are not eligible to participate in any recognized student organization activities. The chapter must also cease all new member activity during the period.
The Sigma Chapter of Theta Tau was issued an interim suspension on August 20, 2018, where the chapter notified Ohio State of its decision to withdraw as a registered student organization and disaffiliate from the university, but the Student Conduct process is still continuing and an investigation is ongoing.
Zeta Phi Beta and Theta Tau did not respond for comment by time of publication.
Updated 3/29 at 6:04 p.m.: updated to include comment from Sigma Phi Epsilon.