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Letter to parents regarding fraternity life

August 19, 2018

Dear Mountaineer Parents,

It is wonderful to have our students on campus as we begin a new semester at West Virginia University. I am eager to see the transformations that will occur as they continue down their chosen paths. However, I am writing with an urgent matter that I need to bring to your attention.

One of the ways students will continue to grow is by getting involved in student organizations. With nearly 500 university-recognized groups on campus, everyone can find their niche. But it is important for you, as parents, to know when a group is not recognized by the University.

This week we have had several fraternities dissociate with West Virginia University with the intent to form their own independent Interfraternity Council. Some are dissatisfied with the deliberate – and necessary – steps the University took this past spring to promote Fraternity and Sorority Life on West Virginia University’s campus as safe and aligned with our University values.

In the spring semester of 2018, the University had received reports of drug and alcohol abuse, physical altercations, over occupancy at events, disorderly misconduct, sexual misconduct and hazing.

It was critical that we addressed these concerns immediately. In February, we formed a working group comprised of students, staff, faculty, alumni, and fraternity and sorority headquarters partners to redefine Fraternity and Sorority Life on campus. The final recommendations can be found in the document, “Reaching the Summit: Recommendations and Report.” You can access the report at https://greeklife.wvu.edu/ and then clicking on “Chapter Statuses.” I urge you to read the report, which is both thoughtful and forward-thinking.

In an attempt to reconcile our differences with those who are dissatisfied, a meeting has been scheduled on Tuesday, Aug. 21 with fraternity alumni and national leadership. In response, two fraternities (Alpha Sigma Phi and Phi Sigma Kappa) agreed to rescind their letters of dissociation on Friday.

Sigma Chi, who dissociated on Aug. 10, has been placed on interim suspension by its national headquarters who was not supportive of the local chapter’s decision.

Originally, Kappa Alpha dissociated with the support of its national headquarters. The executive director of the national headquarters has since rescinded its support. However, the local Kappa Alpha chapter continues to promote on social media that it is hosting rush activities today and throughout next week. In fact, they hosted an event this afternoon.

After several attempts with Kappa Alpha local and national leaders to have such promotion removed from social media, the posts remain in place, and indeed, escalated this afternoon to specifically invite freshmen. It is imperative that you know our campus has deferred rush, which means freshmen are not allowed to join until the spring semester. We do this to give our freshmen time to acclimate to college life.

Kappa Alpha’s actions are in direct defiance to University regulations and protocols. Therefore, I must strongly encourage you to speak with your students and discourage them from participating in any Kappa Alpha event should they be considering this option.

When a fraternity loses recognition from the University it means the fraternity can no longer participate in the WVU recognized Interfraternity Council or any of its sponsored programs. Chapters also are not allowed to participate in programs sponsored by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, such as Homecoming or Greek Week. Chapters may not participate in any University-sponsored activity such as intramurals, nor any activity sponsored by a recognized student organization.

The chapters will not be able to reference “West Virginia University” or use any of the institution’s marks or brands in any capacity. They are not allowed to reserve any space on campus for programming or business purposes.

If you have questions as to whether a fraternity or sorority is in good standing, you can visit our site that clearly shows the status of each organization. For those chapters not in good standing, the “Reaching the Summit” report provides information on each chapter’s recommended steps to regain recognition.

Let me be clear: I support Fraternity and Sorority Life at West Virginia University. We have many outstanding fraternities and sororities who contribute to our campus community through leadership and service. We have exceptional leaders in our Fraternity and Sorority community, and I applaud them for taking the lead to make our system one that is a safe and meaningful experience for our students.

It is unfortunate that the actions of a few prompt me to write this letter when so many of our students are making good choices and advocating for the changes needed. However, the safety of our students is my first and foremost priority. And I feel it is important that you, our parents and our partners, have the necessary information you need to help your student make the right choices, as well.

If you have any questions about Fraternity and Sorority Life, or about a particular organization, our staff is happy to help. Please contact Corey Farris, our Dean of Students, at 304-293-5811 or corey.farris@mail.wvu.edu.

I look forward to a successful and productive semester with our students. Together, we will also work to promote a safe semester filled with opportunities that enrich their lives.

Sincerely,

Signature of E. Gordon Gee

E. Gordon Gee
President