With maskless students packed close together on a sunny day in Miami, there appears to be no thought of COVID-19. As University of Miami and police departments fail to curtail Greek Life partying, fraternities and sororities continue operations as normal on a weekly basis.
On Feb 27., Greek Life hosted a party at 6520 SW 72nd Court in unincorporated Miami-Dade County. The party had more than 100 people and was hosted by Sigma Chi, according to one source.
Multiple members of Sigma Chi and their chapter president Zachary Slogoff were in attendance. Additionally it included members of Delta Phi Epsilon walking up and down the middle of the street dressed in shirts that read “Big” in pink lettering, other sorority members in bathing suits throwing up on the sidewalk and Greek members piling into Ubers with no masks as they flipped off The Hurricane reporter and police officers.
Slogoff, nor Delta Phi Epsilon president Logan Ciuci replied to a request for comment.
Members of Greek Life have continued to host large parties since before school started despite COVID-19. Some faculty members have expressed that UM administration is not doing enough, but the Dean of Students office points to multiple cease and desist orders as proof of continued investigations. A cease and desist order instructs Greek organizations from hosting events during an investigation.
The party on Feb. 27 went on for at least two hours before two Miami-Dade police officers showed up and proceeded to do little more than sit in their car. One party-goer laughed at the police officers and smiled as he urinated on the fence in front of them. The officers either did not take notice, or chose to ignore the incident.
When asked for details of the event, Miami-Dade police provided the following:
“At approximately 4:42 p.m., the Miami-Dade Police Department, Kendall District responded to 65th Street & SW 72nd Court, on a report of a disturbance (loud party).”
No further information was provided. Throughout COVID, police officers across Miami have been reluctant to crack down on large parties.
“Administration will never stop us,” said Sigma Chi member Gustavo Alexanian, who attended the party. Sigma Chi was suspended for part of the fall 2020 semester for hosting parties that violated the university’s COVID-19 guidelines, but were brought back this semester “in good standing.”
“Administration knows we are partying, but we pay full price…they won’t do anything about it because we bring in money,” Alexanian said.
In addition to declining to suspend Greek Life organizations this semester, the Dean of Students office also refuses to be interviewed by The Miami Hurricane.
The Miami Hurricane sent a list of questions over email to the Dean of Students office which were largely inspired by comments from faculty, Greek Life members, students and other members of the UM community who are frustrated with what they say is a lack of accountability. The Dean’s office refused to answer the questions directly and instead provided the following statement:
“The Dean of Students Office investigates every credible allegation of student misconduct and organizational policy violations that it receives, and investigations hold organizations and individuals who violate policies accountable. Since the start of the spring semester, the following fraternities have received cease functions orders pending the result of an investigation into alleged policy violations: Sigma Alpha Mu, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Beta Theta Pi, Phi Delta Theta, and Pi Kappa Phi.”
The Miami Hurricane published reports, comments from members within Greek Life, reports to the University of Miami Police Department and reports to the Dean of Students office directly refuting the previous statement.
For example, on one occasion The Miami Hurricane reported the address, name of the fraternity hosting the party, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and time in which a party was taking place. UMPD and the Dean of Students informed The Miami Hurricane they would investigate and provide follow up. Both failed to follow up despite repeated phone calls asking about the status of the investigation. The Miami Hurricane is still waiting and currently Sigma Phi Epsilon remains in “good standing” despite hosting another large party last weekend, according to a source.
In their statement arguing that their investigations “hold organizations and individuals who violate policies accountable,” the Dean of Students office pointed to five fraternities that have been ordered to cease operations during the semester. Only one, Phi Delta Theta, was punished, and they were given probation rather than the more severe suspension.
Last semester, the Dean of Students office agreed to be interviewed by The Miami Hurricane when reports of Greek Life partying were first made public.
At the time, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Ryan Holmes, said reports to his office had “no evidence.” Holmes pointed out that there were “no addresses,” “no names” and said that even license plates were helpful when tracking down those who host parties in violation of COVID-19 guidelines. The Miami Hurricane has reported parties with all of the aforementioned information, yet fewer suspensions have been issued this semester than last.
“I came here to party,” Alexanian said. “Administration will never stop us.”
Seeking anonymity, some non-tenture faculty members said they feel Alexanian’s conclusions are justified.
One long-time business school faculty member expressed frustration with Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Whitely and Senior Associate Dean of Students Steven Priepke.
“I would be embarrassed,” he said. “They have egg on their face; it is like they have completely given up.”
Another business school faculty member expressed similar frustrations.
“It is shocking to me that the administration hasn’t seemed to take any steps to mitigate what is happening or punish students that are involved in large gatherings,” he said. The faculty member said he believes student behavior to be “disgusting” and “obvious” emphasizing how shocked he is that the administration hasn’t done more to curb super spreader events. He said these are a direct threat to his health and others on campus. The faculty member said he has given up hope that the administration will ever take the incidents seriously.
Not only irritated with administration, the faculty member turned his ire to students.
“I am extremely upset with how brazen and selfish students have been,” said the faculty member. “I had considerably low expectations going into this, and they somehow fell short.”
A law professor also mocked the administration’s response to rampant partying by Greek Life.
“Haven’t these people ever grounded their children?” she said.
Similar to administration, the Miami-Dade Police seem to have been unable to hold Greek Life accountable. The police officers who declined an interview at the party, spent close to a half hour outside the fraternity party, did not write a single ticket nor a report that could be provided to UMPD and left.
“We are just waiting for them to leave in Ubers,” one of the responding officers said. He declined further comment. During the time in which he was there observing party goers, more Ubers arrived than left.
Linda Neider, a faculty senate leader who spoke with The Miami Hurricane pushed back on the sentiment felt by her colleagues and emphasized support for the Dean’s office.
“If there are campus parties and events where participants are acting irresponsibly, Student Affairs will investigate them,” Neider said, a tenured professor of management. Neider replied to questions over email on Feb. 9. “Student Affairs, under the leadership of Whitely, continues to work 24/7 to address student behavior. Faculty are grateful for these aggressive actions.”
After approximately 15 minutes, the police officers left their cars, pointed to the present Miami Hurricane reporter, watched as fraternity members approached the reporter and then left. At the time when police officers left, there were more than 100 people still at the party, not a single name was taken down.
“It’s hard to tell who cares less,” said one of the business school faculty members. “The administration or the cops?”
Another Sigma Chi member who had been reached out to for comment multiple times by The Miami Hurricane apologized for not responding to emails.
“If I talk to you, then the administration will know what we are doing,” he said.
One Greek member explained why he continues to party.
“I pay 50k a year to be here to party,” he said. “We are in March of this COVID thing; let’s move on.”