A fraternity at The University of West Florida has been suspended and a sorority is temporarily on hold and under investigation for violating rules of conduct.
The fraternity is the Tau-Psi chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon and the sorority is the Nu Eta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Dr. Ben Stubbs, the Associate Dean of Students and the Director of Student Involvement at UWF says the investigation into the violations of conduct by the fraternity began some time ago. "That process is complete. The fraternity can still appeal. It did accept responsibility for the violations but it could still appeal the sanction." The sanction is a minimum five year suspension from being recognized on the UWF campus. In an open letter released Friday morning, UWF President Dr. Martha Saunders said the violations were "hazing as well as risk-management and alcohol-related misconduct. The activities occurred at an unregistered, off-campus bid day party hosted by the organization and included hazing, underage drinking, risk management violations, drinking games, common source container and coerced consumption of alcohol." No charges or suspensions have been given to individual students, although that could still occur. The Zeta Phi Beta Sorority chapter is temporarily suspended, pending the results of an investigation into allegations of hazing and risk-management violations. Saunders stated that this is an active investigation and wrote that “Although we remain committed to the growth and success of the fraternity and sorority community at UWF, we must hold all our student organizations to the standards set forth by the University in the interest of our students' safety and success. I expect our fraternity and sorority chapter members to take all appropriate measures to ensure that chapter activities adhere to University standards and regulations.” It’s been about two weeks since Florida State University indefinitely suspended all fraternities and sororities on campus after the death of a pledge. Dr. Stubbs says all schools are on high alert for violations. "Certainly in the state of Florida and nationally there is a lot of interest and a lot of concern regarding the experiences of fraternity and sorority members. The scrutiny is very high right now. And it's a good opportunity to reflect on our processes and the steps we're taking to ensure the safety of our students." However, Dr Stubbs says the university did not follow any different protocols during these investigations. the only difference is Dr. Saunders felt, given the added interest and the events at FSU, that it was important to communicate openly about the process.
The University of West Florida began this semester with 20 Greek life organizations on campus. Dr. Stubbs says that there are currently no plans to mirror FSU and suspend all on campus organizations. "That said, the Board of Governors has expressed support for those actions taken at Florida State. we believe, in our community the vast majority of our students and our organizations are behaving and operating as they should be. So we want to make sure that those organizations can continue to do so."
There are regular meetings scheduled throughout the semester with the university and its on campus organizations. Dr. Stubbs says in the coming weeks they will be meeting with the presidents and advisors of their chapters. "The topics of those (meetings) will certainly be affected by these ongoing (events) and the level of concern about safety. We do have an open forum for all members of the UWF community, and all stake holders, to give us input about the direction of fraternity and sorority life on campus. This is something that we announced several weeks ago." That open forum will be held at the UWF Conference Center Ballroom on Monday December 4 at 5pm.