Student Affairs Jumps the Gun, Announces Suspension of Pi Beta Phi Based on Questionable Report
The Marquette chapter of Pi Beta Phi could be facing a suspension.In reality, what happened was this: a prospective pledge of the sorority complained to Student Affairs that a member of the sorority had forced her to drink an entire bottle of tequila. Without seeking corroboration, Student Affairs proceeded to suspend Pi Beta Phi.
The Division of Student Affairs called a hearing to review the apparent infractions made by the sorority and determine if punishment is necessary.
University spokesman Brian Dorrington released a statement regarding the current proceedings.
“The sorority went through a formal hearing, but no final decision has been made,” Dorrington said in an email. “Leaders within our Division of Student Affairs team meet regularly with our Greek communities and we emphasize that we expect all of our students to uphold Marquette’s Catholic and Jesuit values.”
The university has yet to reveal what these infractions are.
Pi Beta Phi declined to comment.
The sorority appealed. It turns out that the claim of forced drinking was questionable. The prospective pledge who made the claim has a history of alcohol abuse, including multiple trips to the emergency room for excessive drinking. Witnesses contradict her account of being forced to drink a bottle of tequila. The suspension was revoked, but the sorority did have to pay a fine of $500 for allowing underage drinking.
Thus the chapter was not blameless, but they were not guilty of the very serious claimed infraction that led to their suspension.
Corey Lansing, the Student Affairs staffer who handled the case, responded to our query saying he was referring it to Marquette’s Office of Marketing and Communication. Neither the national office of Phi Beta Phi, nor the president of the local chapter (Sara Matloub), responded to a request for comment.
This case looks like a blunder on the part of Student Affairs, which acted precipitously and besmirched the reputation of a campus organization unjustly.
Alcohol abuse on colleges is a serious problem, but this may be a case (like sexual assault) were a moral panic over the issue has trumped notions of fairness and due process. Rather than an abuse from a Greek organization, it appears to be an abuse of a Greek organization.
[Note: updated 7:17 p.m. to reflect the fact that the suspension has been lifted, and that the fine was for underage drinking.]