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Newsletter > September 2013 > "Chapter Suspended for Facebook Posts"
Chapter Suspended for Facebook Posts
Micah Kamrass, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
Like many other fraternity and sorority chapters around the country, the Kappa Gamma Chapter f Pi Kappa Alpha at Florida International University utilized a Facebook page to facilitate member communications. The page included the fraternity mission statement: “Pi Kappa Alpha is dedicated to developing men of integrity, intellect, and high moral character and to fostering a truly lifelong fraternal experience.”
However, the posts on the Facebook page by the individual members of this chapter failed to live up to the ideals of the mission statement. Instead of using the Facebook page as a vehicle for organizational and fraternal communications, the members used the page to sell drugs, to coordinate hazing of new members, and to share nude photographs.
While the Facebook page has since been deleted, members of the media obtained screenshots of the previous postings. Filled with detail, these posts describe a number of illegal activities. One post advertises the sale of marijuana cookies. Another discusses the sale of prescription narcotics from one member to another. The posts also describe hazing activities referred to as “pledgicide” and include the expression “hazing is amazing.” Finally, the page contains several posts of non-consenting nude women. One of the pictures was captioned “I think she was 17 at the time of the … pies LOL.”
According to an FIU spokesperson, the University acted swiftly. “Earlier this week, the University was made aware of Facebook postings which appear to be linked to the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity Kappa Gamma Chapter and members of the Fraternity. The University is taking this information very seriously because it suggests possible Student Code of Conduct violations. The University took prompt action and placed the Fraternity on interim suspension pending the outcome of investigations by appropriate University departments, including the police.”
The International Fraternity added that “[it] had no previous knowledge of this Facebook group and was informed of its existence on Tuesday, August 20, 2013. The International Fraternity has been assured of the Chapter’s full compliance with the temporary suspension and subsequent investigation.” In addition to the Chapter suspension, individual members of the Fraternity could face criminal charges as a result of their Facebook posts.
There is no question that social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, and Linkedin can have a profound effect on fraternity and sorority chapter operations. However, this impact can be profoundly positive or profoundly negative depending on how these tools are utilized. Constant education is necessary to remind young adults that even just one unwelcomed social media post from a member of the organization can be sufficient evidence to suspend the chapter and to bring criminal charges against the individual.
For this reason, Fraternal Law encourages the growing trend of fraternities and sororities implementing and enforcing social media guidelines. This can be achieved in the same manner that these organizations implement and enforce other standards of conduct and risk management procedures with the chapters. This is a clear example of when an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Social media guidelines can help ensure that fraternity and sorority chapters and their members uphold the values of their national and international organizations.