Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Response to "Update: Delta Phi fraternity's sanction appeal rejected"

Response to "Update: Delta Phi fraternity's sanction appeal rejected"
Brown &White Article Dated March 23, 2015

The Office of Student Conduct & Community Expectations does not often comment publicly on conduct cases. Because this was an organizational case and not an individual student’s case, and because of the content of the recent Brown & White article, I believe that a response is justified and necessary. The charges and sanctions imposed in the most recent Delta Phi cases are available on the Lehigh Greeks blog (see here and here) . With the related documentation being easily accessible on the Greek Blog, this seemed like the appropriate place to respond.

Upperclass members of Delta Phi hazed the chapter’s new members and lied about it to university officials.   Information was discovered that the hazing had gone on recently and in the past few years, and the members of the organization continued to lie about the actions of the organization. A fundamentally fair hearing was held to determine if the organization was responsible for the charges levied against it. The chapter pled responsible for nearly all of the charges at the hearing and were sanctioned accordingly.

Lehigh University has a nationally recognized Greek System. Our chapters rank among the best in the country, and our Greek men and women represent some of the finest fraternity men and sorority women in the world.  Delta Phi Fraternity failed to live up to the standards of our institution the institution severed its relationship with that organization. Delta Phi Fraternity had more resources available to it at Lehigh to strengthen its organization than it would at any other college or university. Did they take advantage of it? No. They continued to haze, and lie, and failed to move forward with the rest of the Lehigh University Greek Community. The actions taken by the Lehigh University Community were fair and appropriate for Delta Phi's history of violating the Lehigh University Code of Conduct.
While the information above covers the essence of the Delta Phi case, there were several particular issues in the Brown and White article that I would like to address for those who would like additional information on this matter.

Delta Phi, through the anonymous members quoted in this article raise questions concerning the University's Disciplinary Process. The most important thing to remember about Lehigh University's Conduct Process is that it is not a court of law. The conduct process is an administrative process that holds students and student organizations responsible for their actions as they pertain to the context of the Lehigh University  Student Code of Conduct. One of the Delta Phi member said, “They couldn’t prove that things had happened 100 percent”. The burden of proof required in our conduct system is a preponderance of the evidence, which means that when you look at all the information available, the panel asks, "is it more likely than not that the organization violated this part of the Code of Conduct?". Preponderance of evidence is the burden of proof used on most colleges and university campuses across the nation, and it is the same standard used in civil court proceedings rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt”.  The evidence in this case was certainly enough to meet the threshold of preponderance of evidence .  Lehigh University obtained a Delta Phi chapter notebook from 2011 that was signed by chapter officers, and testimony from members at the hearing indicated that many of the same activities occurred during Delta Phi's spring 2014.   Also many members lied about the chapter’s actions during the investigation.

Another statement in the article was allegedly from a member of Delta Phi's leadership team, who said that he thinks it was unfair for Lehigh to dissolve the fraternity over a notebook that was from 2011. This statement is disingenuous at best. The activities in the notebook did occur in 2011. Testimony from current members of the chapter stated that the same activities occurred in the spring of 2014 and had been on-going since at least 2011. So this is not a case of dissolving a chapter for the past actions of members. Delta Phi was dissolved because the organization lied to the University and University officials on multiple occasions, hazed its new members, and falsified University documents related to new member education for at least 5 years.  The assertions made that the appeals process is unfair, and that the code of conduct is unclear, are again not based in reality. Lehigh University's Code of Conduct is based on national best practices in the area of student conduct and is regularly reviewed.   Members of the LU Office of Student Conduct & Community Expectations have been asked to consult at other universities as they review their own conduct codes.

The Notebook. In August of 2014, a notebook was found in building 86 (formerly the Delta Phi Fraternity house). This notebook contained a detailed account of the Delta Phi spring 2011 new member education program. It was 50 pages in length and handwritten. It was not found over Thanksgiving break as stated by the anonymous members of Delta Phi Fraternity in the Brown & White article. The chapter members have repeated this allegation in several public forums now including the Brown & White and it is simply false. The notebook was received in the Office of Student Conduct on or about August 25, 2014 and entered into our database where it was dated and time stamped August 25, 2014 3:58 pm. If, as stated in the article, members saw a notebook during the fall 2014 semester, perhaps it was a different notebook with records of hazing in it. Some of the allegations that we received stated that members were required to keep notebooks during new member education and to ensure that they were all exactly the same, so it is possible that multiple notebooks exist.

Delta Phi's disciplinary history:  Delta Phi’s disciplinary history and time line of cases must also be addressed. Delta Phi Fraternity's conduct history is available online at (http://studentaffairs.lehigh.edu/node/498). 

Disciplinary Probation: As you can see in March of 2014, Delta Phi Fraternity was on Disciplinary Probation for two incidents that occurred during the fall 2013 semester:
·         In March of 2014 the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs received a report that Delta Phi was hazing. An investigation was held, but there was not sufficient evidence to charge the organization, and the leadership of the organization denied any of the allegations were true, after being reminded of their obligation to provide truthful information. The alumni and national office were notified of the investigation and the outcome.

·         In August of 2014, the notebook was found. Its contents, from spring 2011, had details that were remarkably similar to the contents of the March 2014 report. The Dean of Students Office, The Office of Student Conduct & Community Expectations, and The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs met regularly to discuss this case and develop an investigation plan. It became clear during these meetings that the members of Delta Phi repeatedly lied and withheld information during the March 2014 investigation and it appeared that Delta Phi Fraternity had possibly been falsifying new member education documents since at least spring 2011. It also became clear that members of the alumni corporation of Delta Phi participated in the hazing activities as undergraduates, and were still involved in the new member education process as alumni.

Disciplinary deferred dissolution: The chapter was placed on deferred dissolution in January 2015 due to an incident in November 2014:
·         On November 17, 2014, Delta Phi Fraternity sent a text message to their potential new members (over 35 students) that constituted harassment. The text message made sexually explicit and derogatory statements about a sorority and contained an invitation for the first year students to consume large quantities of alcohol. The case was investigated and a hearing was scheduled to resolve this matter. Please note that in the summer of 2014 it was decided that cases involving harassment would be heard by one administrator as opposed to a panel. Therefore this case was sent to a hearing with Dean Basso. (Note that the article includes a statement from a member of Delta Phi that Tim Wilkinson allowed Dean Basso to remain as the hearing officer after a concern of bias was raised. This is inaccurate. That decision is made by the Office of Student Conduct.) Because of the time needed to investigate this case, Thanksgiving Break, Finals, and Winter Break the hearing was scheduled early in the spring 2015 semester – January 27.  The chapter was found responsible. The sanctions imposed are listed in the above link to Delta Phi's disciplinary record. Delta Phi appealed this decision. One of the reasons that they appealed was that they believed that there was bias on the part of the hearing officer. An independent panel made up of faculty and students reviewed the appeal and Dean Basso's response and found no bias on Dean Basso's part and no reason to grant an appeal. Please note that Delta Phi had sent nearly the exact same text to its potential new members in the fall of 2013 and were allowed to resolve this informally as opposed to through the formal conduct process, promising that they would change the culture of the chapter. It was apparent that they had done nothing to change the culture.

·         In December, OSC&CE began the interview portion of the hazing investigation related to the notebook. Chapter officers, new members from spring 2014, and other chapter members including former leaders were interviewed by a team of 8 investigators. Students were told that they were required to be honest with investigators and were questioned. Again, many Delta Phi members and officers chose to lie or to withhold information when asked questions, some were honest and forthcoming. After the interview portion of the investigation, the OSC&CE reviewed all of the information gathered and developed charges against Delta Phi. The charges and other details are listed on the Greek Blog.

·         A hearing before the University Committee on Discipline to resolve the hazing related charges was scheduled after the appeal on the harassment case was heard. During the pre-hearing phase, Delta Phi challenged one of the panel members because that panel member had served on a hearing for a case involving one of the organization's members in December of 2012 (the case in question was not at all related to the organization, hazing, or any other Greek matter).  As stated in Article V, Section IV, part H of the Lehigh University Code of Conduct, the majority of the remaining members of the hearing panel did not find there to be bias and the hearing panel was not changed.

·         The hearing was held and Delta Phi was dissolved. Please see the Greek Blog for the rationale for the decisions made at that hearing.

·         Delta Phi Fraternity appealed this decision to the Disciplinary Appeals Committee and the appeal was denied.  The appeals committee considered all of the information presented to them including Delta Phi's re-organization plan and did not find that or any of the other arguments that Delta Phi made to be sufficient reason to grant an appeal.  The sanction of dissolution went into effect.

The Office of Student Conduct & Community Expectations provides a fundamentally fair forum for issues involving student conduct to be resolved. In this case the process worked and the matters that came before the system were resolved in fair and manner.  I appreciate your time in reading this document and invite you to provide feedback at your convenience.

Chris Mulvihill
Assistant Dean of Students
The Office of Student Conduct & Community Expectations

Friday, March 27, 2015

Conduct Update: Theta Xi

Effective today, the Eta chapter of Theta Xi has been removed from temporary suspension by both Lehigh University and the Theta Xi Headquarters, and may resume all chapter activities.  The chapter cooperated with The Office of Student Conduct & Community Expectations and Theta Xi Headquarters during their investigation. At the conclusion of the investigation, evidence did not support the allegations of endangering the health and safety of other students and failure to follow the chapter’s approved new member education plan.  The chapter has taken internal action to discipline members that violated residential standards of occupancy.  No formal charges will be brought against the chapter. Lehigh University and the Theta Xi National Office and Eta Alumni Corporation will be working with the chapter to complete new member education and resume chapter activities. If there are questions about the investigation, please feel free to reach the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs at (610) 758-4157 or via e-mail at Infrasor@lehigh.edu.

Buildings 97 + 86 Awarded to Two Fraternities

On behalf of the Residential Selection Committee, we are pleased to announce that both Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and Delta Chi Fraternity will be housed beginning in the 2015-2016 academic year.  

Phi Delta Theta has been chosen to move into Building 97. The committee felt that Phi Delta Theta's proposal did an excellent job of laying out programmatic plans that the chapter would use the facility for (i.e. tutoring program, alumni events, etc.). The spaces in 97 have been recently renovated and ready to go for these purposes.  The committee also felt that Phi Delta Theta is better positioned to meet the 90% Occupancy requirement more quickly within this facility.  Additionally, the larger open dining spaces are conducive to their large alumni base in terms of both involvement and membership opportunities. Finally, the committee felt that Phi Delta Theta's tutoring plan proposal would work well with the bus stop in front of House 97, which could really help to grow other Greek participation.

Delta Chi has been chosen to move into Building 86 for 2015-16. The committee felt that Delta Chi has an excellent opportunity to grow chapter membership and programming opportunities in conjunction with the ability to renovate and customize the facility to fit the needs of the organization. Additionally, the committee felt that the more intimate Occupancy obligations would fit well with the chapter's plans for expansion of their membership. The committee was impressed with the diversity of Delta Chi's membership and felt that the organization would be able to intergrate the obligations of the facilty as the chapter continues to augment their organizational practices and plans.

Congratulations to both groups!!  We are very much looking forward to seeing Phi Delta Theta and Delta Chi secure a residential presence on Lehigh's campus. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Annual South Side Cleanup

Is your chapter looking to get involved with the local community?  Have you considered how you can be a good neighbor?  If so, check out the Annual South Side Cleanup taking place on Saturday, April 11th from 8AM to noon. 
Lehigh University and Mayor Donchez' South Side Task Force will again hold the annual South Side Cleanup on April 11 from 8 AM to Noon. Teams of Lehigh University students and staff will join teams from the Boys' and Girls' Club, Holy Infancy School, Broughal Middle School, Donegan Elementary School, and Sands-Bethlehem Resorts employees will join the block watches and residents of south Bethlehem in the annual cleanup of the neighborhoods. In addition, the Bethlehem Ambassadors have cleaned up the business districts of south Bethlehem allowing the cleanup to cover more streets and neighborhoods to the east and west.  Volunteers are invited to stop by at Lehigh's Campus Square at Morton and New Streets for bagels, donuts, and drinks before receiving assignments. Lehigh will provide transportation to more distant assignments.
Bags and gloves will be made available for volunteers. Children should be accompanied by adults. Bethlehem Police and Lehigh University Police will be patrolling the streets to protect volunteers from careless drivers and speeders. City Streets department staff will pick up the bags left on corners in the neighborhoods.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sigma Gamma Rho to Join the Lehigh Community

The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs (OFSA), along with the Expansion Committee convened for reviewing the expansion of a culturally-based organization.  We are pleased to announce that Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. has been invited to join Lehigh’s community of recognized fraternities and sororities. The organization brings with it a rich history as one of the Divine Nine and members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.  They will be the newest organizational member of the Multicultural Greek Council on Lehigh’s campus, and we know they will add value to the experiences of our current and future members of the entire Greek Community!! 

Phi Kappa Theta's 12-18 Month Comprehensive Plan

Phi Kappa Theta was required to develop a long-term comprehensive plan as a result of recent conduct sanctions. The developed plan intends to address the harm the organization caused within the community and to educate their members and members of the University community on issues related to all facets of diversity and inclusion. Below is a copy of the plan.
Phi Kappa Theta 12-18 Month Comprehensive Plan
-Sensitivity TPK category    (Spring 2015 and keeping permanently)  
We will be adding a sensitivity category to our TPK schedule so every member of our chapter will participate in a program/event which focuses on Sensitivity issues both within our chapter and our community as a whole.  This category will ensure that we will always be addressing issues that others may overlook throughout the future.
-Have internal discussions with New Member Class (Possibly facilitated) (February 22nd 2015)
Earlier in the year our current members participated in internal discussions to determine if there were any situations that caused them to feel uncomfortable and we proposed certain ideas to improve those situations.  We would like to do the same thing with our New Member Class in order to pass on the Phi Kappa Theta ideals and ensure that we are making an effort to make our chapter as inclusive as possible.
-Add a window toward the end of each chapter meeting to discuss sensitivity issues seen both inside and outside of our chapter (Spring 2015 and keeping permanently)
We would like to engage conversations regarding sensitive topics during all of our chapter meetings to remind ourselves to keep our eyes open to what is going on around us.  During this time every member of our chapter will have the opportunity to address any situation that causes them to feel uncomfortable in either our own chapter or the environment as a whole.  
-Safe Zone Training, (Using Greek Allies to express to the rest of the chapter) (The Sunday following the Safe Zone Training, but we’re waiting for the Greek Allies program to announce the date of the training)
Two members of our chapter have joined the Greek Allies Program and will be undergoing Safe Zone Training.  During one of our chapter meetings we will have these two members discuss the basics on what they learned throughout the training so the rest of our chapter can utilize these ideals throughout their daily lives.  

-Restorative Dialogue Session with Pride Center (November 24th 2014)
Ten representatives of Phi Kappa Theta will participate in an open discussion with various members of the Pride Center and LGBTQIA community in order to better understand each others’ perspectives on the incident that took place earlier in the year.
-Cosponsor an event with the Pride Center at some point down the road (Fall 2015)
At some point, probably next semester when tensions have settled further and more time has passed we would like to cosponsor an event with the Pride Center. We are open to either asking them to work with us on one of our philanthropy events or working with them on something they have planned.
-Hang out/ have a movie night or dinner with Pride Center (Smaller groups) (Spring 2015)
We think that one of the most productive ways to move forward from this is to be able to hang out with members from the Pride Center in a casual setting without forcing any sort of conversation. This semester we plan to invite them to have dinner or a movie night at our house so that we can simply converse about whatever we want in a casual setting
- Two 5x10 programs for next year. One about what it’s like to be a Greek man on this campus, and one about sensitivity issues on campus both in Greek and non-Greek communities .(Fall 2015)
Throughout this process we have learned a lot about sensitivity and self evaluation and it is part of our goal to be able to share this with the surrounding Greek and Lehigh community. The 5x10 programs are a perfect way to share what we have learned with fellow students, particularly incoming freshman next year who are brand new to Lehigh. We plan to have two 5x10 programs next year, the first discussing our opinions on both the positive and negative stereotypes and issues commonly associated with being in a fraternity, and another to speak about sensitivity issues both inside and outside of the Greek community on our campus.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Lehigh Sorority Woman Chosen as Leadership Consultant for Alpha Gamma Delta

We're overjoyed to announce that our very own Kerry Mallett has been selected to serve as a Leadership Consultant for Alpha Gamma Delta for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Kerry will be an incredible asset to Alpha Gamma Delta on the road as she works with chapters from across the country.  Her understanding of a values-based philosophy, willingness to challenge the process, and ability to articulate and facilitate issues is unparalleled and all good qualities to serve in this new capacity.

In Kerry's own words, she said the following:
I'm so excited to work as a Leadership Consultant for Alpha Gamma Delta next year because the organization, and women in it, have become such an important part of my life. I am very lucky to have had many amazing Greek experiences while at Lehigh from GEM to attending UIFI and serving on the executive board of my chapter, and I am excited to use the skills developed in these experiences in my career.
Congratulatory sorority snaps all around!! We couldn't agree with you more Kerry and are looking forward to hearing of your adventures next year!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Conduct Update: Theta Xi

Effective immediately all activities of the Theta Xi Fraternity at Lehigh University have been temporarily suspended.  This action is being taken because of alleged University policy violations by the chapter and its members during the new member education process.  Allegations include: endangering the health and safety of other students and failure to follow the chapter’s approved new member education plan.

This interim suspension mandates that no chapter activities of any kind may occur, either on Lehigh's campus or off-campus for Theta Xi.  This specifically includes but is not limited to new member activities.  

Also, upon the issuance of this letter, you are to have no further contact with any new members of the Eta Chapter until further notice. This also means that you are not permitted to contact Eta Chapter new members in any way (personally, electronic, through third parties, etc.) until further notice.  This includes Eta Chapter new members being present at the chapter facility and/or any off-campus facilities where chapter members live.

If this order is violated, individuals and/or the chapter will be immediately charged with further violations of the University Code of Conduct and disciplinary action will be taken.   This "no contact" order does not imply any judgment regarding the factual nature of the incident.

The Office of Student Conduct & Community Expectations will begin an investigation and this interim suspension will remain in effect until the formal resolution of these allegations is concluded.   Failure to comply with the terms of interim suspension will result additional charges.

Additionally, the Lehigh University Code of Conduct requires that students and student organizations not only know and adhere to the Code of Conduct, but cooperate with the University when investigating violations.