The chapters of Pi Kappa Phi and Lambda Chi Alpha at WCU have temporarily lost their university recognition pending investigations into two unrelated incidents which happened in the past months.
This loss of university recognition means that the two groups cannot participate in university-sponsored activities, such as intramurals, and cannot reserve university space as a student organization, according to Dr. Bill Haggard, associate vice-chancellor for student affairs.
This interim suspension of university recognition does not mean that the chapter is shut down, it can still operate as long as those operations are approved by its national headquarters, said Haggard.
The university is working closely with each organization’s national headquarters to get the facts about the allegations made in each case. “Each individual case is different, but we are working in a partnership with the national headquarters of each organization to determine if there are facts to support a violation of their risk management policies,” said Haggard.
Charges Against Pi Kappa PhiThe Pi Kappa Phi chapter’s university recognition was temporarily suspended on October 10 after some of the members were involved in an ongoing altercation with some of the members of WCU’s baseball team, according to Linda Riouff, assistant dean for student development.
“I don’t know if at any point in any one of [the conflicts] they threw the first punch, but they were most definitely involved,” said Riouff. “I think that it would be safe to say that there was a major communication problem, because [the two groups] were not communicating on the same wavelength.”
The chapter will discuss the incident at greater length with their national headquarters at their annual leadership retreat in early January, said Riouff.
The president of Pi Kappa Phi, James Smith, said that the university handed the chapter the notice that they had been suspended without getting any statements from the brothers about the events of the conflict. “As far as I know, and I think these guys here can vouch too that none of us were called,” Smith said. “Names were given to the judiciary review board and we were never contacted about it. We just got our punishment without really being dealt with.”
Charges Against Lambda Chi AlphaThe Lambda Chi Alpha chapter’s recognition was temporarily suspended on November 8 pending an investigation into the events of the night of November 3.
Allegedly, Benjamin Nathan, a freshman with no known formal affiliation to the organization, had been consuming alcohol at the Lambda Chi house before he got into a car accident and was killed, according to Riouff. “The young man that died was under 21, and we have information that suggests that he was at that house drinking,” said Riouff.
The investigation into the matter is continuing. Riouff said that the toxicology reports from Nathan’s accident have not yet arrived from the State Bureau of Investigations, but that she has statements from the state trooper and sheriff’s deputy who were on the scene of the accident.
Riouff said that there are no lawsuits in this case, but that there are still issues of right and wrong that have to be sorted out by the university. “So many people drink underage and don’t think a thing about it,” said Riouff. “No one considers that technically it is a violation of state and federal law. As far as the university is concerned, we still have that issue to resolve. That would be the only real issue that’s there to resolve.”
Lambda Chi Alpha President Joel Merritt said that the brothers were sad to have lost a good friend in Nathan. “It was a tragedy,” said Merritt. “Ben was our friend, and we’ll all miss him. It was a very tragic thing that happened.”