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Newsletter > January 2017 > "University Expulsions Spanning For Decades or More"
University Expulsions Spanning For Decades or More
Amy Hebbeler, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
It is not unusual for universities to ban fraternity and sorority chapters from campus for a period of years when there are violations and misconduct. However, there has been a small, but recent trend of universities banning chapters from campus for over five years. Some have even banned chapters for up to ten or fifteen years.
In May 2016, one university withdrew recognition of a fraternity for ten years for hazing violations and providing alcohol to minors. This withdrawal was later reduced to five years but only after the fraternity appealed.1 Also in May 2016, a university effectively withdrew recognition of another fraternity for ten years for hazing incidents. However, it is indicated that this “punishment of the local chapter [of the fraternity] was made in consultation with the fraternity’s national leadership.”2 Another university suspended a fraternity chapter for fifteen years after a pledge died from head injuries sustained from a fall in the fraternity house.3 In late December 2016 the fraternity appealed the suspension decision.4 We have yet to see if this appeal will also result in the reduction of the withdrawal period.
These withdrawals for over five years could be seen as excessive compared to the nationwide trend of universities banning chapters for five years or fewer. The five-year-or-fewer ban seems reasonable as it allows all the individuals who were members at the time of the violation to graduate and no longer have the opportunity to belong to a university-recognized chapter of the offending fraternity or sorority. However, the ban of ten or fifteen years penalizes those who have not had the opportunity to move the chapter in a direction that is in line with the national fraternity or sorority’s policies and mission.
The excessive period of withdrawal may also have larger implications for national fraternities and sororities and their housing corporations. They must now decide what to do with the chapter houses while the expulsion is in place for a greater amount of time than previous sanctions. Further, some large universities have stated that sanctions which are excessive relative to the violation are grounds for an appeal.5 This demonstrates the importance of consulting attorneys early in the process and also strengthens the necessity of fraternities and sororities to appeal seemingly excessive university punishments.
1 Lucas Geisler, “Sigma Pi Fraternity no Longer Allowed at University of Missouri,” ABC 17 News, (December 15, 2016) http://www.abc17news.com/news/top-stories/sigma-pi-no-longer-allowed-at-university-of-missouri/215458329 (The Fraternity was eventually banned and no longer allowed to return to campus after other violations were found).
2 Nick Anderson and Justin Wm. Moyer, “Virginia Tech Bans Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity for 10 Years for Hazing,” The Washington Post (June 10, 2016) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/06/10/virginia-tech-bans-a-black-fraternity-for-10-years-for-hazing/?utm_term=.7f82bbbd433f.
3 News 4-Fox, “UNR Suspends Sigma Nu Fraternity for 15 Years Following Pledge’s Death” (Accessed January 4, 2016) http://mynews4.com/news/local/unr-suspends-sigma-nu-fraternity-for-15-years.
4 Sarah Litz “Sigman Nu Appeals Decision, Request Hearing with UNR Officials” (December 29,2016) http://www.rgj.com/story/news/college/higher-education/2016/12/29/sigma-nu-appeals-decision-requests-hearing-unr-officials/95981272/.
5 Michigan University, “Stage 3: Appealing the Resolution Process” Office of Student Conflict Resolution (Accessed January 6, 2017) https://oscr.umich.edu/Stage%203; The Ohio State University, “Code of Student Conduct: Section 3335-23-18 Appellate Process” (Updated September 2, 2016) http://trustees.osu.edu/assets/files/RuleBook/CodeStudentConduct.pdf (grossly disproportionate punishment as a ground for appeal.); University of Alabama, “The University of Alabama Code of Student Conduct Section E. Reviews” (Revised August 2016) http://www.sc.ua.edu/conduct.pdf (grossly disproportionate sanctions as grounds for review of decision).