Monday, July 17, 2017

Kappa Sigma-Loss of University Recognition

Update August 30th: The Kappa Sigma Supreme Executive Committee notified Lehigh University on August 22nd that the charter for the Beta-Iota chapter has been withdrawn.  Both alumni and undergraduate members were notified of this decision and advised not to attempt any form of "sub-rosa or underground existence in any form or fashion" under penalty of facing expulsion from Kappa Sigma fraternity. 
Kappa Sigma was placed on interim suspension following an incident on April 22, 2017.  Lehigh University received a report from the Pennsylvania State Police stating that more than 40 students were issued citations in lieu of arrests for underage drinking and another student required emergency medical assistance at an off-campus event hosted by the chapter.  Separately, the fraternity was placed on Disciplinary Deferred Dissolution through December 31, 2017, following a number of incidents earlier this spring.  This disciplinary status placed the organization on notice, meaning any further violations of the Code of Conduct would result in the dissolution of the organization.  

The Office of Student Conduct & Community Expectations conducted an investigation, and the University Committee on Discipline (UCOD) convened on July 14, 2017 to resolve the charges listed below:     

Respect for Self A1 (Unauthorized Consumption, Distribution, or Possession)
The unauthorized or illegal consumption, distribution, or possession of alcohol.  

Respect for Community I1B (Social policy - 1.D.11.a - Irresponsible Distribution of Alcohol)
Irresponsible distribution of alcohol is prohibited. Any occasion where the atmosphere or circumstances are such that the intended or likely outcome is to either abuse alcohol or become intoxicated.  

Respect for Community J1 (Encouraging Others)
Encouraging or facilitating others in actions that violate the Code of Conduct. 

After careful deliberation, the Committee found the chapter responsible for all charges and dissolved the fraternity effective July 14, 2017 through July 14, 2019.  Dissolution is the loss of University recognition and the privilege to use the University’s name or represent it in any capacity. In addition, the chapter will lose all privileges to use University equipment or facilities, and this includes access to group housing.   

The chapter will be eligible to return to Lehigh at the end of the dissolution period beginning on July 14, 2019, provided the campus is open to expansion and subject to recognition processes in place at that time.  Should affiliated students fail to comply with sanctions and carry on as an underground or unrecognized group without University recognition, oversight, and approval, this would jeopardize and further delay the chapter’s ability to return to campus.

The Committee gave the following rationale for the decision and sanctions: 
Kappa Sigma members admitted on the record that underage students did drink while at the fraternity event. A keg was brought to the party by members of the fraternity and there was no designated monitor. In addition, testimony was given that hard alcohol was present and that those individuals who brought it were not asked to leave the event. The organization failed to follow their own risk management policy and did not designate specific sober monitors to be responsible in ensuring organization polices were followed. There was no plan in place to centralize and control any alcohol brought to the party. The fraternity also failed to ensure guests understood policy and procedures that should be followed. 

The chapter has essentially been on Deferred Disciplinary Dissolution for the majority of the past 18 months (since December 2015) and has been given multiple second chances while on on Deferred Disciplinary Dissolution, and this is the third major code violation for the Spring 2017 semester. The panel believes that the only appropriate course of action is to dissolve the chapter, and this sanction is consistent with the guidelines provided in the Code of Conduct. Based upon guidance from multiple parties to include the Office of Student Conduct and Community Expectations, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, and General Counsel, the Medical Amnesty Policy does not apply in this case because the police were called prior to the chapter's call for assistance and the chapter was found responsible for multiple significant alcohol violations during the Spring 2017 semester.

Students intending to reside in the Kappa Sigma chapter house with fellow fraternity members no longer have the ability to do so.  Residential Services staff are prepared to assist students regarding alternative housing options but due to the timing of this action, availability is limited.  Sophomore students are required to live on campus.  Juniors and seniors requesting the opportunity to live on campus will be accommodated; however, these students also have the option of being released from housing contracts without penalty to secure off campus housing.  Additional information regarding on campus housing opportunities and instructions will be forwarded to you by Residential Services at the conclusion of the appeals period.  Housing-specific questions should be directed to Residential Services at or (610) 758-3500.  Additionally, no decisions have been made regarding the facility and its future purpose for the upcoming year and thereafter. 

The chapter retained the right to appeal the decision, and the Office of Student Conduct and Community informed the fraternity leadership of the deadlines and process for appeals as outlined in the Lehigh University Code of Conduct.  The Disciplinary Appeals Committee met on Friday, July 21, 2017 to make a determination and denied the appeal. The Committee provided the following rationale:
There is no requirement for a hearing on medical amnesty. Regardless, we feel that medical amnesty does no apply in this case, because of the repeated alcohol violations and due to the fact that the police were already en route to the party.
The decision by the Disciplinary Appeals Committee is final and with it the disciplinary process is completed for this incident. All sanctions imposed go into effect immediately.

We recognize that losing a chapter certainly has an impact across our fraternity and sorority community and beyond.  Please know that the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs staff are committed to supporting students as they navigate this challenging transition so that they may enjoy a meaningful and worthwhile experience at Lehigh. 

In closing, we are wholeheartedly committed to promoting a fraternal culture of excellence alongside health and safety.  Fraternity and sorority life has a long-standing and proud history at Lehigh where members live by their respective founding principles that foster leadership, service, scholarship, integrity, and friendship.  Together, we will continue to strengthen the fraternity and sorority experience through positive impact, strong leadership, and culture change.  We believe in our community, and our potential is boundless.