By Mechelle Hankerson
N.C. State University will begin a thorough review of the school’s Greek system in the wake of recent incidents that led to the closure of one fraternity and the suspension of another, officials said Wednesday.
The university announced Wednesday that it was immediately closing the Tau chapter of Pi Kappa Phi after the discovery of a pledge book that contained racially and sexually offensive comments.
Meanwhile, the NCSU chapter of Alpha Tau Omega was suspended earlier this month after police found drugs at the fraternity house and a woman said she was sexually assaulted there.
“We know what they say their values are, but we see evidence with a number of fraternities not living up to those values,” NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson said.
He said the contents of the Pi Kappa Phi pledge notebook, which was reportedly found at a restaurant near campus, shed light on an “unacceptable culture” within the fraternity.
The book was reportedly filled with quotations including, “if she’s hot enough, she doesn’t need a pulse” and “that tree is so perfect for lynching.”
In a statement released by the university, Woodson said he hoped the closure of Pi Kappa Phi “makes it clear that there is no place for intolerance, sexism and racism at NC State.”
Members of the fraternity agreed to the disbandment, according to the university. Phi Kappa Phi will vacate its on-campus location, and the university will reassign members to housing as needed.
The group will have the opportunity to return to NCSU as a campus organization in 2018, according to the university.
The Pi Kappa Phi chapter had 66 members during the 2013-14 academic year, according to an annual report from NCSU’s Greek Life department.
Woodson said the university will not punish individual members of the fraternity because the quotations in the book did not include any direct threats. He said the comments fall under the right to free speech and do not violate the code of student conduct.
Even so, Woodson said the comments in the book were out of line.
“I was very concerned members of our community would think and write such derogatory things toward women and minorities,” he said in an interview.
The national headquarters of Pi Kappa Phi, based in Charlotte, also announced the closure Wednesday.
A statement from the organization said it closed the chapter “for conduct inconsistent with the fraternity’s values and the fundamental principle of human dignity.”
“The quotes in the journal are reprehensible, unacceptable and perpetuate hateful stereotypes,” Pi Kappa Phi Chief Executive Officer Mark E. Timmes said in a statement. “The students recognize they violated our standards and have accepted responsibility.”
Mike Mullen, NCSU’s vice chancellor and dean of academic and student affairs, will lead the review of Greek Life on campus, according to the university. The review will involve the school’s four Greek councils and examine issues such as sexual misconduct, substance abuse and diversity.
“We set high standards for all of our students, including our Greek community, and we fully expect them to embrace this challenge, raise the behavioral bar and work proactively to create the best Greek system possible,” Mullen said in a statement.
The Interfraternity Council, which includes Pi Kappa Phi and Alpha Tau Omega, issued a statement Monday saying all affiliated fraternities would halt social activities to help refocus the Greek community.
“Recent allegations of behavioral issues do not reflect the overwhelming members or the values of our fraternities at NC State,” Interfraternity Council President John Stewart said in the statement.
Fraternities under scrutiny
Woodson said it’s too soon to tell what changes could be made after the review process. It’s unclear when the review will begin or how long it will take.
The fraternity suspensions at NCSU come at a time when fraternities across the country are facing scrutiny for bad behavior.
Members of Kappa Delta Rho at Penn State University are accused of posting pictures of naked, unconscious women on a secret Facebook page.
The national chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon closed the chapter at the University of Oklahoma earlier this month after a video surfaced of fraternity members singing a racist song.
The University of Houston recently suspended the Sigma Chi fraternity chapter while officials investigate allegations of hazing.
At NCSU, several fraternities are currently suspended.
Phi Beta Sigma, which was suspended last year for a hazing incident, can return to campus in 2018.
Phi Gamma Delta is on probation and subject to alcohol restrictions. Theta Chi is suspended pending the investigation into a 2014 allegation of sexual assault.
The university also dissolved four fraternities in recent years: Alpha Sigma Pi for alcohol violations, infliction or threat of bodily harm and failure to comply; Delta Kappa Epsilon for failing to abide by university standards for recognition; Pi Kappa Alpha for alcohol violations and damage to university property, creating a safety hazard and disorderly conduct; and Zeta Psi for hazing, alcohol violations and providing false information to the university.
Woodson said Greek communities must address the culture on college campuses across the country.
“It’s a national challenge,” he said.