Camouflage-clad University of Miami students at a party in Brickell were the subjects of a video posted by an account called Miami Parties on vimeo.com in early October. The video, which has 1,333 plays, depicted an army-themed party titled “Call of Booty”.
But this was not just any party. Some of the shots show symbols of the suspended Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) fraternity, including a sign that reads “Pike Platoon” and the official fraternity flag.
As a suspended fraternity, Pike is not allowed to participate in any of the events sponsored by Greek organizations on campus, including philanthropies, athletic and social events.
One alumnus who attended the event told The Miami Hurricane that the party was not an official Pike event. He said that, after they were suspended last spring, any kind of structural organization was gone.
To some, however, this party suggests that Pike’s presence is palpable in the UM community.
“There is a belief that Pike continues to operate,” said Dean of Students Ricardo Hall. “They may well have initiated new, unofficial or illegal members to their organization. We don’t know. But I imagine we’ll find out over time because they’re not at all giving any impression that they’re operating in secrecy.”
The Gamma Omega chapter of Pike was suspended by national headquarters toward the end of the fall 2013 semester. According to the suspension letter sent to the university from the national fraternity, the UM chapter was removed “due to activities that were inconsistent to fraternity standards.”
According to Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Greek Life Steve Priepke, the national headquarters did not cite any specific facts or situations that went into making that decision.
Those who were official members of the chapter prior to the 2013 suspension are now referred to as Pike alumni.
Several attempts to reach out to Pike alumni and national headquarters were made with little response.
According to the guidelines set by Pike headquarters, the UM chapter is slated to come back to campus in 2017. However, Interfraternity Council (IFC) President Brad Bradshaw said that IFC will vote on whether that will happen.
“The presence of an ‘underground’ chapter would make it increasingly difficult for that vote to go in the fraternity’s favor,” Bradshaw said. “The IFC looks forward to welcoming Pi Kappa Alpha back to the University of Miami (and into their new fraternity house) based on mature and responsible behavior by both prior and future brothers.”
Before its suspension, Pike was in the process of welcoming a new member class and building a new house for fraternity members. The house, located on San Amaro Drive, is expected to be finished around December, and another Greek organization will occupy the house until Pike is re-established.
Although the party was held off-campus, Bradshaw said that these actions may put them at risk of larger repercussions.
“I must warn them,” Bradshaw said, “that they are not an official chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha recognized by that fraternity’s national headquarters and may be subject to legal action stemming from copyright infringement.”
An anonymous partygoer said that most of the people at the party were UM students but still, because some of those in attendance do not belong to the fraternity, the event was not affiliated with Pike.
“I do believe that some of the now alumni were there … but that doesn’t mean that it was a Pike party,” she said. “I would say that it 100 percent wasn’t an affiliated party at all, and the fact that some of the symbols were in the video is mere coincidence considering the people that were there.”
The source also claimed that she was aware that she was being filmed and that the videographer is not part of Pike. She wasn’t, however, aware that the video would end up online.
“The video was a little bit rowdy,” she said. “Any shot that had me personally in it was a group of friends talking, so it wasn’t something that personally bothered me, but there are girls bouncing and it was a little bit of a mess. But I didn’t really feel like I was being personally violated or anything considering, you know, I wasn’t the one doing anything crazy like that.”
The video description on vimeo.com says: “No alcohol or illegal substance is used during filming, just props.” However, according to this partygoer, there was alcohol served at the party.
Hall said that there is currently no official relationship between UM, the Dean of Students Office and Pike, and the university will have the final say on when or if Pike ever returns to campus.
“That return date is by no means set in stone and will certainly not be dictated by Pi Kappa Alpha,” Hall said. “So, if there is a belief by the university, or proof that Pike has continued to operate, they may never return to campus.”
According to Priepke, some of the organizations that remain on campus are bothered by Pike’s behavior, but he said it is their responsibility to report any behavior that they are uncomfortable with.
“As long as they tolerate that involvement, as long as they fail to report what they know is behavior that violates the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook, as long as they look the other way, as long as they don’t confront the behavior of their peers, as long as they’re bystanders in this, they contribute to the ongoing existence of this illegitimate organization,” he said.
The end of the aforementioned “Call of Booty” video promised an event on Oct. 17. Information from several anonymous sources suggests that there was a pool party on that day, in which a large number of Pike alumni were in attendance.
Hall said the university administration is typically aware of what is going on “underground.”
“We don’t go looking for information on Pike or any other fraternity or sorority,” Hall said. “But sometimes information is forwarded to the office, and sometimes what is happening on-campus or off-campus or at the football stadium or elsewhere is so prominent, so in our face that we can’t not notice it. We would be blind not to notice.”
Alexander Gonzalez contributed to this report.
For further reading about Pike’s previous suspensions: