Two fraternities at East Carolina University have been shut down by their national organizations following investigations into members’ conduct, including alcohol violations and hazing, the university said Monday.
Tau Kappa Epsilon International Fraternity announced the closure of its chapter at ECU, effective immediately, for a period of four years through the end of fall 2021. Delta Chi National Fraternity announced the indefinite closure of its ECU effective immediately.
The investigations were conducted by the national groups with the support of ECU, according to a university news release. The closures are unrelated, and follow the shutdown of Sigma Phi Epsilon at ECU last year.
The actions come at a time of increased scrutiny of fraternities after deaths at Penn State, Louisiana State, Texas State and Florida State universities last year. At those universities and others, administrators suspended all Greek Life activity.
At Penn State, two dozen people face criminal charges in the death of Beta Theta Pi pledge Timothy Piazza, who reportedly had 18 drinks and fell down a flight of stairs last February. Surveillance video from the fraternity house showed him stumbling and left for hours before anyone called 911, according to media reports.
John Mountz, director of Greek Life at ECU, said the national organizations and the university received reports of “significant alcohol use” during new member initiation at the fraternities in the fall. The groups were issued “cease and desist” orders from their national headquarters while investigations were launched. He said there were no reports of injuries associated with the conduct.
“National organizations are very in tune with what’s going on nationally,” he said. “They are also taking a much harder line on behavior, and rightly so.”
In the case of TKE, the national organization issued a statement saying, “The alleged actions of the group do not align with our principles of love, charity and esteem. We are excited about the opportunity to return to the university in four years.”
In the case of Delta Chi, the national fraternity investigated the local chapter and concluded that members’ actions constituted hazing, violation of risk management policy, and failing to uphold the values and expectations of the organization. The statement did not provide specifics on the alleged hazing.
“These actions by chapter members go against our expectations of membership and do not align with the Oath of Delta Chi,” stated Keith Shriver, executive director & CEO. “We will not tolerate such violations of laws, policies, and principles. The fraternity will work with local alumni, university officials and student leaders to re-establish a membership of values-based men at East Carolina University in the future. We are grateful for our partnership with ECU, and we appreciate the university’s continuing support.”
ECU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Virginia Hardy said the university supports the decisions and has been “in constant communication” with the national headquarters of the two fraternities.
“These closures are a result of violations of both university and fraternity headquarters’ policies regarding alcohol and hazing,” Hardy said in a statement. “We have been working collaboratively with staff and volunteers from both organizations to investigate and resolve these issues. We are pleased that we have been able to intervene proactively and work in partnership with these two groups.”
She said further investigations of individuals’ behavior will continue.
“Our goal at ECU is to maintain an active, vibrant fraternity and sorority community grounded in the values of service, leadership, campus involvement and student success,” she said. “We are committed to student safety and work actively to educate our students on critical issues facing Greek-letter organizations nationwide. We are also committed to holding organizations and students accountable for actions that do not meet expectations. We will continue our efforts, along with national/international headquarters, to strengthen our campus fraternities, sororities and all student organizations as a key part of the student experience at ECU.”
ECU now has 42 Greek organizations, including 24 fraternities. About 15 percent of the student body are members of fraternities or sororities, Mountz said.