Disciplinary committee drops 4 of 7 charges against fraternity

Vindication has been granted to the brothers of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. But it comes at a price. Following a hearing conducted by the University Disciplinary Committee, Temple’s Sigma-Phi chapter of TKE was found

Vindication has been granted to the brothers of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. But it comes at a price.

Following a hearing conducted by the University Disciplinary Committee, Temple’s Sigma-Phi chapter of TKE was found not responsible for four of its seven university sanctions, which stemmed from a Campus Police investigation.

However, the brothers of TKE were held responsible for their remaining three charges – violations of university alcohol policy, any duly promulgated Greek letter policy and campus safety regulations – according to the same UDC hearing conducted
Oct. 19.

The UDC also placed TKE on disciplinary
probation until Aug. 31. At that time, TKE will be entitled to make a presentation to the UDC to have its probation lifted.As a result of the probation, the UDC forced TKE to yield a new executive board, leaving TKE to find replacements within its fraternity for its eight-man panel.

Rushabh Shah, elected by vote of his brothers Oct. 29, will replace TKE President Paolo DeVito, who also was removed as the university’s Interfraternal Council president.

The UDC told Shah and DeVito, who were both present at the hearing, that TKE will need “to be more safe, be leaders and change the culture of our fraternity,” DeVito said, if it is to regain a more firm footing with the university.

“Being completely dissolved as a fraternity,” DeVito said, “for us [and] for the university, would have been the easiest solution, but … .”

“But we’re not giving up,” Shah interjected.

“For our guys, it’s get on the bandwagon
to fix this or get off.”

In the past, Temple-recognized fraternities
have faced one-year disciplinary probations
and, due to failure to comply with the university’s rules, have lost their recognition within the university’s Greek community.

Sigma Phi Epsilon and Pi Lambda Phi were two such fraternities that lost their status in 2005 and are currently unrecognized by Temple.

TKE’s unraveling at Temple began in mid-September, when Campus Police launched an investigation after two female students who had been taken to Temple Hospital reported that they felt the ill-effects of something other than overindulgence in alcohol.

Traces of the date rape drug gamma hydroxybutyric acid (more popularly known as GHB) and anti-depressant benzodiaz were found in the systems of the female students, who had attended a TKE party.

Campus Police searched TKE’s house, located
at the 1800 block of North 16th Street, the night of Sept. 23.Police did not find what they sought, but instead found 220 persons packed into the rowhome. The party, where alcohol was being served, hosted 179 underage guests and the university subsequently suspended TKE because
of the party.

While that initial suspension has been lifted, TKE has some ground to make up in order to eradicate its probation. Based on its UDC hearing, TKE is required to complete monthly risk management workshops that will feature guest speakers on approved topics.

Though Andrea Caporale Seiss, assistant dean for Judicial Affairs, could not confirm TKE’s specific requirements, she said TKE is in a favorable position.

“The likelihood of coming off disciplinary
probation and being the organization they once were is highly likely,” Caporale Seiss said. “[Some] Greek organizations are flat out not recognized by the university.

Saying TKE is recognized, which it is, puts them in a different place.

“If they keep their nose clean and do what they’re supposed to do, they should be fine.”

According to Shah and DeVito, TKE is restricted from hosting parties and socials that involve alcohol, and were also denied an opportunity to perform at last week’s Greek Showcase.

On good behavior, the outgoing and incoming
presidents said, TKE could participate in the spring’s Greek Week festivities.

Though perturbed by his fraternity’s lessened role on campus, DeVito said he understood the punishment.

“The UDC found that we were responsible and, when given a chance to say we had been liable and negligent, we did not take it,” he said.

Shah added that he felt TKE was not given proper warning prior to Campus Police’s investigation.

The expectation when attending a fraternity
event is to consume alcohol, Shah said.”People don’t want to come to a party and not obtain alcohol,” Shah said. “It’s one of the main perks. You’re not going to pay to just hang out and drink soda.”

After police searched TKE’s house in late September, it was found to be in violation of several city zoning ordinances and was consequently vacated.

Without a house on campus, DeVito said the temptation to violate the UDC’s recommendations for shedding its disciplinary probation could be thwarted.

“It would be a lot easier to give in if we had our house, but that might just work to our advantage,” DeVito said.

Whatever the result of TKE’s probation, the fraternity has the support of Matt Raisman, president of the Temple Greek Association.

“They have the support and foundation they’ll need to bounce back,” Raisman said. “They’ll be running smoothly in the near future.”

In related TKE news, the UDC found brother Aaron Schraeter not responsible earlier this month on allegations that he had laced the drinks of two TKE party guests with date-rape drugs.

Identified by the two female complainants
who had been taken to Temple Hospital, Schraeter, 18, was charged by Philadelphia’s Central Narcotics Unit and still awaits trial in the city.

Christopher A. Vito can be reached at christopher.vito@temple.edu.

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