College Fraternity Misconduct and COVID-19
Although many of the nation’s colleges and universities continue to struggle with the effects of the Coronavirus epidemic, a few schools have resumed near-normal operations albeit with strict public health guidelines in place. In addition to the now-customary mandatory mask rules and social distancing requirements, most schools have placed limits on the size of social gatherings that are hosted by fraternities and sororities at their respective houses or at off-campus locations. While most Greek organizations and their members seem to be complying with these new rules, some frats and sororities appear to have retained their pre-epidemic “the rules don’t apply to us” attitudes!
In the month of August alone, at least 15 fraternities and sororities at 7 different schools have found themselves placed on at least an interim suspension for violating their host school’s public health policies and guidelines imposed to protect all students from exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
On August 1st, Syracuse suspended its chapter of Zeta Beta Tau for violations of the school’s public health guidelines.
On August 22nd, Penn State suspended the local chapter of Pi Kappa Phi for hosting a “large social gathering” that violated state public health guidelines.
On August 24th, Florida Gulf Coast University suspended two fraternities (Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Chi) for hosting off-campus parties that violated state public health guidelines.
On August 26th, the University of Pittsburgh announced that it had suspended 9 frats and sororities over violations of both school and state public health guidelines.
On August 27th, Baylor suspended its chapter of Phi Gamma Delta for hosting an off-campus social event of more than 10 people.
Also on August 27th, Radford University suspended its chapter of Theta Chi over COVID-19-related violations at off-campus gatherings.
In addition to the above-noted suspensions, Pitt also announced that eight students had been declared persona non grata for deliberately violating school health and safety guidelines implemented to combat the ongoing epidemic. These students are barred from campus and are not allowed access to university housing facilities although they are permitted to take classes remotely.
While these suspensions are not directly related to fraternity hazing, the fraternity hazing lawyer at The Doan Law Firm notes that such behavior patterns could be used to establish a “pattern” of deliberate misconduct should a hazing incident involving one of these fraternities occur. We would then argue that the fraternity’s previous suspension record is evidence that it failed to consider and protect the safety of others even though it was aware of its host’s policies and state laws.
At The Doan Law Firm we will continue to monitor the national media for other reports of fraternity misconduct and invite you to visit our fraternity hazing website for the latest news regarding this topic.