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WVU fraternities look to break away from university

August 24, 2018

Four West Virginia University fraternities sent a letter to university leadership indicating they no longer want to be a part of the school’s student organizations.

“Basically they sent us a notification renouncing their recognition,” Corey Farris, dean of students, said.

If the fraternities disassociate they can no longer participate in university-sanctioned activities like Greek Week and intramurals. They also are not eligible for grants from the college and can’t use the WVU logo for anything pertaining to the fraternity.

WVU received letters from Alpha Sigma Phi, Phi Sigma Kappa, Kappa Alpha Order and Sigma Chi with their intentions to disassociate, though two of the fraternal groups have rescinded their letters pending a meeting with alumni members, national fraternity and university leaders.

This group of organizations looking to break away comes after new regulations were put in place following a report issued by the university that found several instances of sexual misconduct, hazing and drug and alcohol abuse.

The report reviewed each fraternity and sorority and provided recommendations. For example, Sigma Chi was restricted to one social event per semester instead of the usual three. This was one of the main reasons the fraternity decided to disassociate, said David Coram, senior and treasurer for the fraternity.

“Our operation is being impeded on,” Coram said. “We can’t do a philanthropy event without going through a roll of red tape.”

One of the regulations that organizations cited as problematic was the raised GPA requirements for students to join. A GPA 2.5 was initially required, but now it is a 2.75.

However, disassociation may make recruiting new members more difficult. The organizations would no longer be able to recruit on campus if they choose to renounce their recognition. But Coram said that isn’t a concern for Sigma Chi.

“We’ll be OK. We’re very active in the community in Morgantown and with social media marketing you don’t even need to go through the school for that,” Coram said.

For Farris, the biggest concern is student safety. He said if the organizations decide not to be recognized by university, there is little the school could do to help them.

“For the students walking away from WVU we can’t provide guidance, support and help,” Farris said.

If an emergency, such as an injury or sexual assault, were to occur at an unaffiliated fraternity’s event, WVU would be able to provide resources to individual students but not the organization, Farris said.

WVU President Gordon Gee scheduled a meeting for Tuesday with fraternity alumni and national leadership to further discuss the matter. In response, Alpha Sigma Phi and Phi Sigma Kappa agreed to rescind their letters of disassociation.

“They pressed the pause button and said, ‘Let’s see if there is something we can do,’” Farris said.

In a university statement, Gee noted that the local chapters of both Kappa Alpha and Sigma Chi did not take back their statement.

“I am extremely disappointed that these fraternities have disassociated with the university in a deliberate and reckless manner,” Gee said Sunday.

Sigma Chi’s national office said it does not support the move and placed the chapter on indefinite suspension, while Kappa Alpha has withdrawn its initial support, according to the WVU statement.