UPDATED: Fraternities issued cease operations orders

UPDATED Oct. 5, 2015: The University of Miami chapters of the Sigma Chi, Zeta Beta Tau and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternities were sanctioned following the conclusion of investigations into hosting unauthorized events earlier in the semester. Margot Winick, a spokeswoman for the school, said she “understands the sanctions occurred several weeks ago.”

“Thorough investigations were completed with the full cooperation of each fraternity. The fraternity chapters were charged with violating policies specific to hosting unauthorized social events; each accepted responsibility and was sanctioned as appropriate,” Associate Dean of Students and Director of Judicial Affairs Tony Lake said in a statement.

Sanctions handed out were of a punitive – loss of privileges – and educational nature for individuals and entire chapters. Because individuals were involved the school would not share any more information.

Three fraternities at the University of Miami – Sigma Chi, Zeta Beta Tau and Sigma Alpha Epsilon – were issued cease operations orders on Friday, Aug. 21, by the Dean of Students Office as investigations began into the fraternities  allegedly hosting unauthorized events. Alpha Sigma Phi was also issued a cease operations order originally, for allegedly housing non-members in their house, but the order was lifted on Monday after the fraternity cooperated with the school.

Associate Dean of Students and Director of Greek Life Steve Priepke updated his original statement from Sunday after the order against Alpha Sigma Phi was lifted Monday afternoon.

“We can confirm four fraternities were issued cease operation orders by the Dean of Students Office.  Three fraternities issued a cease operations order allegedly hosted unauthorized social events – Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Chi and Zeta Beta Tau. Investigations are underway for these three groups and no fraternity has yet been charged with violating any policy. One fraternity was issued a cease operations order for allegedly housing non-members in their fraternity house  – Alpha Sigma Phi – but with the full cooperation of the fraternity, that issue has since been resolved and the cease operations lifted.”

According to Margot Winick, assistant vice president of UM Media Relations and Multimedia, the alleged unauthorized events occurred on Thursday, Aug. 20, and Friday, Aug. 21. Those were the last two days of orientation week for new students as classes began Monday.

The orders mean that all chapter-related functions are to cease, including meetings, recruitment events and social events, including but not limited to mixers, tailgates, educational programs, formals and community service.

The investigations can vary in length depending on the specific circumstances surrounding each case. Large numbers of students will likely need to meet with the dean assigned to investigate the case, who could be any dean in the Office of Students, according to Priepke.

The three fraternities still under investigation are all a part of the Interfraternity Council (IFC). IFC President Matthew Getzoff urged cooperation on the part of all of the fraternities in a statement to The  Miami Hurricane on Monday morning, prior to the lifting of the order against Alpha Sigma Phi.

“The four fraternities have been directed to cease operations while an investigation is being conducted by the Dean of Students Office.  The Interfraternity Council encourages everyone to cooperate fully with the investigations.  Should any of the investigations result in any fraternity being charged with violating any policy, the IFC Judicial Board may or may not have a role in the adjudication process depending upon the severity of the charges.  Any individual or organization who violates any policy will be held accountable.  As the investigations are in progress, we have no further comment at this time.”

Neither Alpha Sigma Phi President Vikesh Patel nor Priepke would expand on why exactly the Alpha Sigma Phi investigation was resolved so quickly, but they did both highlight their cooperation with the Dean of Students office. Patel provided the following statement to the university on Wednesday afternoon.

“As Dean Priepke has said in his statement, ‘With the full cooperation of the fraternity, that issue has since been resolved.’” On behalf of the chapter, we look forward to having a great year and work[ing] with the school when it comes to these types of situations.”

The presidents of the other three chapters did not respond to requests for comment, although members of two of the fraternities national organizations did respond.

Executive Director of the national Sigma Chi Fraternity organization Michael Church said in a statement Monday, “Unfortunately, I can’t offer any comment at this time as we do not have any additional information besides what you already stated below. If we do discover any information of substance, I will be happy to offer comment at that time.”

Associate Executive Director of Communications for the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon organization Brandon E. Weghorst said in a statement Monday morning, “Sigma Alpha Epsilon is committed to the safety and well-being of our members and others in their campus community. We maintain stringent policies and guidelines for brothers, and we have zero tolerance for any behaviors that deviate from our creed and values. The Fraternity is also committed to working with university administrators so that we can ensure the chapter meets our high standards. We view our relationship with the University of Miami as an important partnership.”