Greeks concerned about underground organizations

Andrea Ford

The University took new steps this year to prevent student participation in underground organizations. In mid-August, freshman and sophomore families were mailed information about the campus’s legitimate Greek community as well as a warning about underground groups that recruit members at the University.

Previously, the Greek Life Office has provided this information before the spring semester, not realizing that students are being recruited for these underground organizations upon their arrival on campus in the fall.

The University is currently aware of five underground groups, which were at one time recognized student organizations: Pi Kappa Alpha, Lambda Chi Alpha, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Alpha Tau Omega and Alpha Phi Delta. However, at some point they lost this status because of their failure to comply with University or national guidelines. Chrissy Faistl, director of Greek Affairs, said, “These groups are not fraternities. They lack recognition by the University and any national fraternal organization.”

Alcohol-related incidents, hazing concerns and a general unwillingness to follow rules were all cited as reasons for the disaffiliations.

In addition to the distribution of information on this topic, the University hopes to dispel any confusion by publicizing the eight recognized fraternities on campus as much as it can. Resident Assistants and Orientation Counselors have been informed and encouraged to aid students with any questions and concerns.

National organizations have also attempted to address the problem of underground organizations by immediately stripping disaffiliated chapters of membership resources, including ritual equipment, liability insurance, scholarships funds and educational programs. Groups who are caught using their names and letters can be prosecuted for copyright infringement.

“Our main concern is the safety of the students,” said Faistl. University authorities work to prevent any hazing within the Greek community, but unrecognized groups are not subject to any University or national standards. “There is no way of supervising these groups. Public Safety can’t hold anyone accountable,” she said.

The University is also concerned about the possibly deceptive policies of some of these organizations. Faistl and Assistant Director of Student Development Phillip O’Neill expressed worry that students may get involved in them without knowing that they are not affiliated with the University. “These groups are not giving the full story,” said O’Neill.

Without proper information, freshmen who are not familiar with the University’s Greek community and policies may be confused about them.

Last year, Faistl said there were “conversations about some of the groups coming back on campus as official fraternities,” but in order to do that, they would have to discontinue the practices that the University and national organizations prohibit.

Although the University can aim to make everyone aware of the illegal groups, Faistl admits that their ability to prevent participation in them is limited. She said, “There are always going to be people who want to join something specifically because of its rebel nature, but students that choose to be involved in them need to be aware that there is concern about their well being.”