Students in one of three Greek life organizations appealing suspensions after UConn sanctioned a fraternity and two sororities amid hazing allegations and student code violations can stay in Husky Village housing this year.
The Sigma Chi fraternity and the Delta Gamma and Delta Zeta sororities lost their recognition at UConn early August following a months-long investigation, but the university has modified its decision for Delta Gamma's fate in response to its appeal, UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz confirmed.
Depending on the outcome of the appeals, all three organizations were in danger of losing their housing in Husky Village starting Jan. 1, 2015 and getting banned from “interest housing” in the nearby Towers residence halls.
But now UConn will allow Delta Gamma to register to be recognized as an on-campus organization effective fall of 2015 and current Husky Village residents can stay in their housing for the whole year. The sanctions for Sigma Chi and Delta Zeta have not changed, according to Reitz.
"Instead of applying through the extension process for recognition on campus in the future, you may, without applying, register as a student organization and be recognized as a group affiliated with the office of Fraternity and Sorority Life in the fall semester of 2015," Christine Wilson, UConn assistant vice president for student affairs and director of student activities, wrote to Delta Gamma in an Aug. 28 letter.
UConn modified the sanctions against Delta Gamma "in recognition of the fact that Delta Gamma had self-reported the actions" to the university and the sororority's national organization, according to Kristen Cole, director of news and editorial communications at UConn.The sanctions against Sigma Chi and Delta Zeta did not change because UConn said the fraternity and sorority "did not self report," according to Cole.
However, since "the current Husky Village C1 contract between the organization and the University is null and void, given that the Epsilon Pi chapter of Delta Gamma is not a registered/recognized student organization," Wilson notified the sorority in the letter that its members housed in Husky Village "may not act as a registered/recognized student organization."
She welcomed Delta Gamma as a national organization to apply for housing in Husky Village for Fall 2015 "during the application process that will open in Fall 2014."
The original sanctions early August came just months after two other Greek organizations were removed from campus for similar allegations.
UConn initially found Sigma Chi and Delta Gamma responsible for three student code violations in connection with a Feb. 28 incident. Letters sent to both organizations say men affiliated with Sigma Chi where forced to bob for "nips" in a toilet and eat cat food. Some were also allegedly struck with wooden paddles.
Members of Delta Zeta were accused of feeding dog treats to fraternity men and forcing them to drink and paint their bodies, according to a letter from the UConn associate director of community standards sent to the chapter.
"UConn takes a zero-tolerance approach to hazing and harmful treatment of students by anyone, under any circumstances. Our mission is to provide a first-rate learning environment, and we take this duty really seriously," UConn officials said in a statement obtained Aug. 12. "Greek Life has played a vital role in the life of this university for decades and will continue to do so. UConn values the commitment of the many students who promote philanthropy, community service and responsible citizenry through their participation in these groups."
The initial sanctions, which took effect immediately, would last three years for Sigma Chi, two years for Delta Zeta and one year for Delta Gamma, pending appeals, according to the university.
All three organizations appealed the rulings and heard back late August, but only Delta Gamma's status was modified as a result of its appeal. The university did not release details on the reasoning behind the new decision.
"Delta Gamma Fraternity values the heritage of our Epsilon Pi chapter, but knows there must be a desire and commitment from our current collegians to promote and live by the values of our Fraternity," said Delta Gamma national president Stacia Rudge Skook, in a statement earlier in August in response to the sanctions against Delta Gamma. "We believe the current collegiate members in our Epsilon Pi chapter understand Delta Gamma Fraternity's values and are ready and willing to lead the change. Our members do not condone this behavior and are sorrowed that the actions of a few have impacted so many."
Delta Zeta also released a statement in response to the sanctions, which reads, in part:
"The Sorority fosters the respect and worth of self and of others, and does not condone hazing. Delta Zeta is committed to its eradication. Delta Zeta Sorority members are expected to conduct themselves in alignment with the Sorority values that exemplify integrity, good citizenship and leadership."
A statement posted to the international Sigma Chi Fraternity Web site said leadership is "extremely disappointed in the decisions that several individuals of its Gamma Omega Chapter made to participate in the activities referenced by the University of Connecticut" but challenged the allegations.
According to the statement, the incidents don’t fall into the category of hazing since everyone involved was already a member of the organization.
"By its own definition, the University of Connecticut considers hazing as activities where participation is a precursor for some form of membership in an organization," said Sigma Chi International President Michael Greenberg, in a statement. "In this particular case, we reject the notion that hazing was connected to this incident because the individuals who participated in the activities were already initiated and did so voluntarily, with no connection to their continued membership as a condition for participation."
The Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity lost their appeals after being suspended in March.
UConn will have 2,300 students participating in 34 recognized fraternities and sororities at the start of the school year in the fall, including those recently sanctioned.
Two additional Greek organizations are colonizing at UConn as well, including Sigma Phi Epsilon, a fraternity that lost its recognition at UConn in 2008, and new sorority, Alpha Chi Omega.