After 31 years at WCU, the Beta Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha was closed Friday, March 30, after a decision by the Greek Life Advisory Committee.
The Greek Life Advisory Committee found the chapter in “non-compliance” with WCU’s Greek Life Plan for Excellence for the second year. According to Dr. Bill Haggard, assistant vice-chancellor for Student Affairs, this was the first and main reason that the chapter’s charter was revoked.
The Greek Life Advisory Committee is composed of students, faculty and staff, and is chaired by L. C. Riouff, assistant dean for Student Development, Student Affairs.
The plan of which the chapter was found to be in violation is an agreement between WCU and the Greek organizations, which was approved by the Board of Trustees. The plan was established in December of 1997 and contains 14 various standards of excellence by which the committee evaluates all the Greek social organizations on campus.
“If a group is found in non-compliance for two consecutive years, they lose their university recognition,” Haggard said.
According to Riouff, it was decided that the chapter was in non-compliance with the plan because it did not show evidence of a faculty advisor, no evidence that new members were receiving educational information about the fraternity, and no evidence of any alumni relations, all of which is required under the Greek Life Plan for Excellence.
Their new associate members were also absent from Greek 101 training class, for which attendance is required for all new members of all NPC and IFC groups at WCU. Riouff also stated that when the chapter carried out personal development programs, of which a certain number are required under the plan, no forms detailing the programs were turned in.
An “overall inadequacy” in the fraternity’s report to the Greek Life Advisory Committee earlier this year also triggered suspicion, according to Riouff, because the language on the report was “flowery and non-specific.”
Non-compliance with several aspects of the plan, in combination with on-going risk management issues within the chapter, caused concern within the committee.
The decision was also made by the university’s administration and by Lambda Chi Alpha’s international headquarters for other reasons.
According to Haggard, the chapter was on an “interim suspension” while the university was investigating the death of Ben Nathan.
“We have not yet resolved that disciplinary case,” Haggard stated. “Their closing was not solely because of that.”
Riouff stated that the case was in fact resolved. “At this point we don’t have a chapter.”
Haggard went on to say that while that was not the main reason for their closing, it did come up in the discussions with Lambda Chi Alpha’s international headquarters, who brought up a third point.
According to university officials, the chapter had been on various levels of probation with their international headquarters for the last three years. While this, like the investigation into Nathan’s death, was not a main point for the revoking of their university recognition, it was a point that was considered.
Haggard also explained that the time of the charter’s suspension and all plans concerning the shutdown of the house were decided by Lambda Chi Alpha International and were supported by the university.
At a meeting at 4 p.m. on March 30, brothers of Lambda Chi Alpha living in the house were given 30 minutes to pack an overnight bag and were not allowed to return to the house until the next day when they were given three hours to move all their personal belongings out.
Brothers living in the house were given the option of living in a dorm and having meal points issued to them.
“Nobody was left out in the cold,” Haggard said. “The fraternity is paying for any students’ room and board who chose to live on campus. I think, eventually, all of them chose that option.”
Haggard also said that the lack of advance notice before the brothers were forced out of the house was due to the fact that case studies into the closing of chapters often show acts of vandalism, theft, huge parties, and money spent for those parties that shouldn’t be spent after the chapter is closed.
A lack of advance notice was found to minimize that risk.
At the request and expense of Lambda Chi Alpha international headquarters, Jackson County Sheriff deputies have been monitoring the house since last Friday evening and may continue to do so until the house is sold by Lambda Chi Alpha.
Lambda Chi Alpha international headquarters expressed interest in renewing the chapter at WCU in a few years. Riouff said that the process may take from three to five years, since fraternity headquarters prefer to wait until all members from the defunct chapter have graduated or left the university before re-establishing a chapter that was shut down.
The president of the chapter could not be reached for comment.