The University of South Carolina’s Fraternity Council suspended 13 fraternity chapters from recruiting new members this week after reports of alcohol violations.
The fraternities are accused of serving alcohol in front of potential new members, according to a letter sent to the chapters.
Rush events are supposed to be alcohol free, USC spokesman Wes Hickman said.
The ban comes after S.C. fraternities have been in the spotlight in recent years. Last fall, for instance, two USC fraternities lost their charters for alcohol and hazing violations.
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Each of the 13 fraternities will have to schedule a hearing with the Fraternity Council, which will determine penalties, Hickman said. Hearings could begin in the coming days, he said.
USC officials then will decide whether there will be further disciplinary hearings, Hickman said.
The (Columbia) State emailed 11 of the fraternity presidents listed on USC’s website, asking the impact of suspending recruitment. Two responded. Neither would talk on the record.
According to a letter from Jonathan Withrow, vice president of conduct for the USC Fraternity Council, the suspensions came after chapters disregarded warnings made at an emergency meeting Thursday with Fraternity and Sorority Life associate director Jarod Holt.
“Many organizations clearly did not take the meeting seriously,” Withrow’s letter said. “More drastic measures must be taken.”
The letter says the Fraternity Council has evidence that 13 of the school’s 17 largest fraternities, ranked by membership, held unsanctioned events that included alcohol.
According to the letter, the chapters suspended are: Alpha Epsilon Pi; Alpha Tau Omega; Chi Psi; Delta Kappa Epsilon; Kappa Alpha Order; Lambda Chi Alpha; Phi Gamma Delta; Phi Kappa Sigma; Phi Sigma Kappa; Sigma Alpha Epsilon; Sigma Chi; Tau Kappa Epsilon and Theta Chi.
The other six fraternity chapters on campus can continue recruitment, Hickman said. Bid day is Monday.
Chapters must meet with the Fraternity Council to discuss the allegations in order to resume member recruitment, Withrow said in the letter.
Hickman said the council’s decision to suspend the 13 chapters is an example of “student leadership enforcing student rules.”
The alleged violations were reported by other students as part of a program called “Stand Up Carolina,” Hickman said.
“This is an example of how the system is supposed to work,” Hickman said. “Students see something, a suspicious package or a suspicious person, any potential violation, we want them to report it. If you see something, say something.”
In a statement released Tuesday, Tim Bryson, president of USC’s Fraternity Council, said the decision to stop rush is intended to ensure all chapters are following their organization’s rules.
USC has stepped up its sanctions of fraternities for rules violations in recent years.
USC halted new member recruitment temporarily at all fraternities in 2011 after seven chapters were cited for alcohol violations. Last school year, three USC fraternity chapters were closed because of alcohol and hazing violations, including one after the death of a pledge.
All but three of the university’s 17 largest fraternity chapters last year had been cited for alcohol, drug or hazing violations since 2011, according to an analysis by The State of school records.
Two of the three chapters with clean records since 2011 were among those suspended Monday from new member recruitment.
The growth in fraternity membership at USC has slowed in recent years, increasing less than 10 percent since 2010. Meanwhile, sorority membership has risen by almost 70 percent in the same period.