After Mercer University housing staff found alcohol on the front porch of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house on Friday, Aug. 16, a judicial hearing ruled to suspend the fraternity from campus for the remainder of the semester.
The fraternity house is currently closed and locked, and the organization cannot hold officially sanctioned events such as chapter meetings until the spring semester.
“That night we had some people on our front porch that had a beer can in hand, so our fraternity was found with alcohol on the premises,” said Peter Carrerou, treasurer for Pi Kappa Phi.
Further investigations found evidence of alcohol inside the house as well.
Pi Kappa Phi faced two conduct code violations last year and other violations dating back to 2008.
“Half of my fraternity wasn’t even [enrolled at Mercer]. It was so long ago,” said Carrerou.
At the time of the incident, Pi Kappa Phi was also on University Probation for hazing allegations, which stipulates that further violations of the code of conduct result in an evaluation of suspension, according to Doug Pearson, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.
“In this case, the organization had been found responsible for several violations over the last year and already placed on University Probation.
The next step was to suspend the organization,” Pearson said.
Drew Haynes, president of Kappa Alpha Order fraternity said the situation is “atrocious.”
Haynes said, “kicking them out of their house is a pretty big sanction just for some alcohol.”
Two years ago, Kappa Alpha Order lost their pledge class for one year when Interfraternity Council (IFC) members walked into an off-campus residence and found an empty beer can.
“It was a private residence and IFC just walked in. You can’t do that,” said Haynes.
Carrerou, who used to be treasurer for IFC, said that during rush this year pictures of alcohol and freshmen were turned in against Sigma Nu.
“They couldn’t take a pledge class for a month, which is nothing. Then we had more pictures turned in of the same thing and nothing happened,” said Carrerou.
“You have picture evidence of people drinking with freshmen and all [Sigma Nu] got was a slap on the wrist. When KA had such a minor infraction, they almost got the death sentence, fraternity wise,” he said.
Haynes and Carrerou both indicated that they think the sanctions given by Mercer have been inconsistent.
Pearson said, “I can appreciate someone thinking that, particularly if they are not aware of the facts.” However, the judicial board determined that, considering the history of violations, suspending Pi Kappa Phi was the “next, and perhaps only, logical step.”
Carrie Ingoldsby, director of Campus Life and Student Involvement, oversees IFC and indicated that the Kappa Alpha Order and Sigma Nu situations differ from that of Pi Kappa Phi.
“The Sigma Nu violation was through IFC judicial and was a recruitment violation that occurred off campus. The Pi Kapp incident was on
campus and went through Mercer judicial,” she said. Kappa Alpha Order’s violation was also a recruitment violation and went through IFC judicial.
Haynes and Carrerou also believe that Residence Life is being stricter on fraternities this semester.
“There was one incident where we had a noise complaint at like 8:15, which is ridiculous, but whatever. We turned the music down. They’re just being super [strict] on the rules,” Haynes said.
Jeff Takac, director of housing and residence life, however, does not believe this is true. “Their rules are actually the same as every other student on campus. We have quiet hours and courtesy hours,” Takac said. “If somebody asks you to turn it down we kind of expect people to turn it down whether you live in Mercer Hall, Greek Village or Plunkett.”
“That particular night the incident was [due to] stereotypes that are pushed upon us,” said Carrerou, who believes that Mercer is handling the situation in such a way that perpetuates the stereotype that greek life is based solely on partying.
“Granted, stereotypes exist for a reason. People do things wrong, but you learn from that mistake and you fix it,” said Haynes.
Carrerou thinks the University should focus on the many hours of philanthropy and community service fraternities are involved in.
Ingoldsby said that the organizations who have had issues this semester are “committed to turning things around, adhering to their sanctions and gearing up to come back and do a good job on campus.” Ingoldsby indicated how important it is to promote the positives of Greek Life such as philanthropy, service and involvement on campus.
Pearson said, “In spite of [the Pi Kappa Phi incident], I believe the Greek system produces strong student leaders, engages in solid community service and provides a valuable social outlet for our students. It does not provide them the freedom to violate the law or university policy. I am confident that Pi Kappa Phi will learn from this incident and come back as a stronger organization.”