- UPDATES FOR FRATERNAL LAW
- SUPREME COURT ISSUES IMPORTANT FREE SPEECH CASE
- Fatal Shooting at Youngstown State Fraternity
- “All-Inclusive” Sorority Recognized At Purdue
- CHAPTERS AT MARYLAND AND LONGWOOD FACE DISCIPLINE
- CHRONIC NUISANCE PREMISES
- EDUCATION KEY TO IMPLEMENTING CHIA
- NORTHWESTERN MANDATES ADA COMPLIANCE
Newsletter > March 2011 > "UPDATES FOR FRATERNAL LAW"
UPDATES FOR FRATERNAL LAW
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
Medical Marijuana is not Legal Marijuana
Some 15 states and the District of Columbia have laws purporting to legalize medical marijuana. In spite of that, possession, sale and use of marijuana remains a violation of federal law. As a result, colleges and universities may not authorize even the use of medical marijuana without jeopardizing their federal funds. Fraternities and sororities typically prohibit illegal drugs from being used on their premises or at their events. Should sales of illegal drugs occur on chapter property, it is possible for the federal government to seize the house. They did it some years ago, seizing three fraternity houses at the University of Virginia. Those fraternities had to buy back their houses from the feds.
In those states where medical marijuana has been approved, it is important to make it clear to members who may want to rely on such a law to justify their possession and use of marijuana in the house, that would still be a violation of house rules and federal law.
The University of Montana used this simple explanation to their students:
“Although Montona State law permits the use of medical marijuana, i.e., use by persons possessing lawfully issued medical marijuana cards; federal laws prohibit marijuana use, possession and/or cultivation at educational institutions and on the premises of other recipients of federal funds. The use, possession or cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes is therefore not allowed in any University of Montana housing or any other University of Montana property; nor is it allowed at any University sponsored event or activity off campus.”
National fraternal organizations and their chapters similarly have no obligation to permit the possession or use of medical marijuana on their property or at their events.
CLS: Is the Fallout Beginning?
The CLS v. Martinez lawsuit may be over (see Fraternal Law, September 2010, Number 113 and January 2011, Number 115), but the fallout from it may be just beginning. The Student Governments at Ohio State University recently went on record as urging the University to adopt the kind of all-comers policy which the Supreme Court upheld at Hastings Law School in the CLS case. Ohio State had been one of a number of schools that had been challenged by the Christian Legal Society when it was denied CLS recognition because of the beliefs it required of members. Ohio State ultimately settled the suit and recognized CLS. Now the University is being asked to reverse that position. University officials have indicated they intend to carefully and deliberately review that request. It appears they are not about to rush into anything. For fraternities and sororities, the worst part of the CLS fallout could be if a state university refused to recognize fraternities and sororities because they are selective membership organizations and discriminate on the basis of gender. Should that happen, the Greek organizations on campus will be faced with either attempting to litigate or existing without campus recognition.
Utah State Settles
Michael Starks died as a result of a hazing incident on November 21, 2008. Twelve students were criminally charged. The two Greek organizations involved closed their chapters and settled with the Starks family. Now, Utah State University has settled with the Starks family and the family’s wrongful death lawsuit against the University has been dismissed with the University’s agreement to take more aggressive steps to combat hazing, alcohol and drug abuse on campus. (See Fraternal Law, January 2009, Number 107.)
Murray State and Sigma Pi Sued
Murray State University, Sigma Pi Fraternity International and its Gamma Upsilon Chapter at Murray State, as well as its members and officers, are defendants in a lawsuit filed last month. The suit, which has not yet been answered, alleges that Shawn Jackson, an African-American, paid to attend a party a year ago at the Sigma Pi Chapter’s residence. He says he was harassed verbally and physically and that rocks were thrown at him. He was ultimately forced to leave.
The suit claims that the conduct interfered with his right to contract, violated the Fourteenth Amendment, constituted a conspiracy to interfere with civil rights and a violation of federal and state civil rights laws, as well as outrageous conduct, assault and battery. The Executive Director of Sigma Pi, Mark Briscoe, is quoted in the local press denying the allegations as “absolutely baseless … to say that our chapter was racist is ridiculous.”
A University spokesperson explained that the University had investigated the accusation, but “Mr. Jackson never filed a formal complaint with the office of Equal Opportunity.”