From the outside looking in, it might appear Greek Life at USD is under probation. In reality, only five out of the 12 chapters on USD are serving probation sentences.
While five houses on probation may seem high, Laura Anderton, director of sorority and fraternity life and leadership, said most are serving old probation sentences.
“A lot of our organizations will be off of probation here in 2020, 2021 or 2022. (They’ve been serving their probation) that’s part of the reason why it seems like literally everybody is in trouble,” Anderton said.
And now, probations will look a little different. The Board of Regents (BOR) recently revoked the previous protocol for probation terms. The old code of conduct required probation to last four years after the offense, with three phases based on the number of recurring offenses.
Currently, Beta Theta Pi, Delta Tau Delta, Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Delta Theta and Alpha Phi are serving level one probation sentences, meaning alcohol is prohibited within the house or any other property owned by the fraternity.
Antonio Casiello, Interfraternity Council (IFC) President, said probation is not as bad as it sounds, especially because of the length of the sentence.
“It’s a timeout if you were to categorize it as something,” Casiello said.
Alcohol was the first thing the old BOR policy took away from an organization violating its probation. The policy impacted all organizations, even those that are traditionally alcohol-free.
“No alcohol for one calendar year — I can get on board with that pretty easy for an organization that has an issue with alcohol,” Anderton said. “But if an organization isn’t necessarily having an issue with alcohol, that was still the first mandatory minimum. That was applying to the chess club and applying to organizations that don’t fit. It wasn’t just to fraternities and sororities.”
A second violation while on probation would forbid an organization from adding a new member class for one year.
This, Anderton said, was not an effective form of punishment because it left gaps in classes which created a dangerous dynamic between classes.
“When there’s a time gap, they kind of create some new traditions in that time gap or, have some struggle of continuity over time, so we never really agreed with that,” Anderton said.
The third and final strike in the BOR’s old policy led to the termination of the organization. Now, with the initiation of the new policy, Anderton and other administration officials can fit the punishment to the specific offense. However, organizations placed on probation before the switch are still required to complete their sentence.
Beta is one of five houses currently on probation. They are set to complete probation in 2021. On a national level, Beta is in the process of going dry after the death of a member last winter.
Cohl Turnquist, Beta President, said although they’re on university-issued probation, the strictness of their chapters national organization makes it easy to follow the rules of the probation.
“Because of the way we operate, it doesn’t matter if we’re on probation or not. We’re going to have the same rules,” Turnquist said. “We’re going to follow the same risk management policy and we’re going to be dry a house regardless of whether we’re on probation or not.”
Right now, Beta is in a transitional period; by next fall, they will be a dry fraternity nationwide. As of now, the local chapter can technically have alcohol in private rooms if the member is over 21. They are not allowed to host traditional “bring your own beverage” parties but can host socials if alcohol is provided by the third-party vendor.
To follow Beta’s policy, they must have all third-party vendor parties endorsed by alumni, regardless of the location.
“Beta is having an alumni event during D-Days to celebrate historic moments in their history … on campus. So their alumni have worked with one of the vendors… (this way) the liability shifts to that vendor,” Anderton said.
In these cases, the vendor is responsible for checking IDs and ensuring minors do not consume alcohol at the events.
The new probational policies will affect more than just Greek members — all other student organizations fall under this policy. Anderton said the new policy will make punishments more effective as they can be customized to the organization.
“As we move forward, it will be a better process for us, where we’re able to attend to the behavior that we want to change,” Anderton said. “It’s not because we want to be a punitive body, it’s because we want to curve the behavior. We see it as bad behavior or dangerous behavior or behavior that the organization shouldn’t be exhibiting that’s going to lead to further destruction down the road.”
Other issues caused by the length of probation periods include student leaders simply not knowing of their sentences and particular classes of students serving probation periods for offenses they didn’t complete.
The Volante reached out to all five Greek houses currently on probation. Delta Tau Delta denied comment on the subject. Lambda Chi Alpha and Alpha Phi did not respond in time for print, while Phi Delta Theta was unaware it was on probation and declined to comment.
“They are indeed on probation, but do not have any outstanding sanctions; which is likely why they do not believe/remember they are on probation,” Anderton said in a clarification email to The Volante. “Probation does not mean that they are currently ‘in trouble’ but rather have resolved an organizational charge in the last few years. For many of our current presidents, the conduct case was resolved long before they took up leadership.”