The Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, known as Pike, is working as a chapter to restore its image following a series of investigations led by the Dean of Students Office last fall.
According to an article reported by The Miami Hurricane in November 2011, two incidents involving Pike prompted the investigation. The first was an unauthorized, off-campus party during Labor Day weekend. The second was the initiation of ineligible members during the fraternity’s spring 2011 semester.
The Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook defines a student who is eligible for initiation as one who has a cumulative GPA of 2.50 and is enrolled in at least 12 credit hours during both pre-initiation and at the time of initiation. Pike was charged with nine violations of university policy and pled “responsible to all charges,” according to information released by the Dean of Students Office following the hearings that addressed the violations.
Since then, the Dean of Students Office and the national Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity have imposed numerous sanctions, including a chapter-wide membership review that took place this past spring.
“I think that Dr. [Patricia] Whitely and Dean [Tony] Lake imposed sanctions that they felt would most improve the chapter moving forward. We respect the University’s decision and strive to be the best we can be moving forward,” Pike President Christopher Seifel said.
The membership review was conducted by national Pike officers.
“They looked at GPAs, disciplinary records and everything to be invited back in,” Pike Secretary Nick Conforti said. “Almost half of the fraternity was not invited back in. It created a lot of tension. Now the core group of recognized brothers is smaller, but it’s comprised of kids that care a lot more and do things for Pike.”
Now, the chapter is down to around 25 members. Members who were not selected to return to the chapter are on a five-year suspension period, but will be recognized as members of Pike if they wish.
“Pretty much everyone now either has a position, or is doing everything to make sure we meet all the sanctions,” Conforti said. “Because we were in trouble, we want to get us back fully functioning so we can grow again and recruit so we aren’t in trouble anymore.”
The former executive board also had to step down in order for a new executive board to be selected.
Steve Priepke, assistant dean of students and coordinator for fraternity and sorority life, has been working closely with the chapter in order to help it restore its reputation.
“They had a litany of things they had to have completed, and I developed it into an easy-to-follow plan, and we’ve been checking it off together,” Priepke said.
Priepke has met with several alumni and members of the chapter’s executive board to help them undergo training. As a chapter, Pike also needs to meet certain philanthropy requirements.
Priepke believes that the work they have been engaging in will help the chapter restore its image on campus.
“Unfortunately – or not unfortunately – certain images and certain types attach themselves to certain sororities and fraternities,” Priepke said. “I think that the men that are part of their active chapter now are pretty impressive guys, so I feel good about that and the leadership and where it’s going. I think it’s hard to overcome stereotypes and reputations. It takes time to build great ones.”
According to Conforti, restoring his fraternity’s image is important to members beyond the chapter at UM.
“We have alumni telling us that we can’t get kicked off campus,” said Conforti, a junior. “Pike has a lot of history with Miami, and it’s one of the chapters that a lot of the national Pikes talk about.”
Seifel, a senior, hopes the chapter will move past its previous actions in order to restore itself on campus.
“We’re taking the one day at a time approach,” he said. “We try to get better each and every day, because if we are not improving, then we are failing. We are excited about the opportunity in front of us to rebuild our chapter from the ground up. With the help of our alumni base and Dean Priepke, I have no doubt that Pike will be a force on campus for many years to come, as it has been since our inception.”
Alysha Khan contributed to this report.