As part of an ongoing investigation, four University of Miami fraternities have been placed on social probation for the remainder of the semester following a prohibited pool party. The fraternities hosted the event Saturday, Feb. 9 at Club 50, a popular Brickell Avenue club in Miami.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Chi, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Pi Kappa Phi violated UM regulations by hosting a Greek life event during SportsFest, an annual on-campus event during which students from each residential college compete in recreational sports and brain games.
For a Greek life organization, being placed on social probation means that for the rest of the semester, the institution cannot host any event that includes alcohol. If an organization violates this probation, consequences could be as severe as suspension, meaning that it wouldn’t be allowed to operate at UM for a specified period of time.
Despite the punishment, some members of the affected fraternities spoke respectfully about the decision.
“Obviously you don’t want to be put on social probation,” said a member of SAE who asked to remain anonymous. “But we accept the school’s judgement as well as any decision they make going forward.”
Steven K. Priepke, senior associate dean of students and the founding father of UM’s chapter of SAE, explained that the deans overseeing Greek life don’t allow any registered social Greek events during major UM programming.
Administrators notified all UM fraternities and sororities via email that they were not permitted to host social events during SportsFest, which ended on Saturday, Feb. 9.
Sources involved in Greek life said many of the fraternities had to cancel parties they had scheduled for that weekend.
“Everyone canceled the pool parties at the frat houses,” said one source, a UM student who attended the Club 50 pool party and asked to remain anonymous. “So, I guess they thought, ‘If we can’t party at the houses, why not party somewhere else?’”
During the last day of SportsFest, members of SAE, Sigma Chi, Sig Ep and Pi Kapp hosted a pool party at the WET Deck, also known as Club 50, on the 50th floor of the W Miami Hotel.
Priepke said he became aware of the party on Saturday afternoon, while it was still occurring, after a series of “careless social media posts” and police involvement.
Despite the fact that the Club 50 party was not a registered social event, administrators still determined that it was Greek event based on what Priepke calls “the duck test.”
“If it looks like a Greek life event, quacks like a Greek life event, and waddles like a Greek life event, it’s a Greek life event,” Priepke said. “When we look at any event we ask, ‘Who was invited, how were they invited, what did people invited think they were going to, how did they get there, who organized it?’ There’s almost always planning by organizations that makes it their event.”
A student who attended the party confirmed that the involved fraternities organized for busses to take guests from campus to Club 50.
Although Priepke found out about the party before it was over, he took no immediate action to shut it down.
“The only time we issue a cease-function order is if we found out an event is occurring where someone is injured,” Priepke said. “No one was injured, so no immediate action was necessary.”
Instead, Priepke said he reached out to the student presidents of each of the fraternities involved and told them that they would all need to meet with the Interfraternity Council president to discuss the incident.
Priepke said he met with the presidents on Monday, Feb. 11. Because the investigation is ongoing, he declined to comment on what specific disciplinary action was taken against the involved fraternities.
“We’re still in the process of the conduct cases for some of the frats,” Priepke said. “Any organization who was found responsible for violating regulations will be held responsible.”
Although Priepke would not comment on specifics, he said a social probation may not be the entire extent of the disciplinary action.