On May 20, an email that caused controversy in the student body was sent to the campus community, signed by Phillip Birns ’16, President of Union’s chapter of Theta Delta Chi, and Dean of Students Steve Leavitt. The email reminded the Union community that there will be no TDX beach party during the upcoming ReUnion Weekend.
Following this email, TDX brothers sent out a plethora of posts on social media networks. The posts stated that TDX had never agreed to what was included in the email, with one person even asking, “What kind of circus is this place running?”
The email stated that Theta Delta Chi “fully supports Union’s decision” to “cancel all aspects of the daytime beach party.” It said that TDX “will be working closely with Campus Safety” in order “to ensure that their house and surrounding grounds remain safe and secure during ReUnion weekend.”
According to Leavitt, the “communication to campus was supposed to be a jointly written announcement, from (himself) and the TDX president, that the administration had canceled the beach party and that TDX was cooperating with (them).” He said that Phillip Birns wrote the first draft, which Leavitt then edited and sent out to the Union community.
Leavitt stated that he “regrets not running (his) changes past (Birns) as a courtesy before sending it.” However, he stated that his edits did not change the overall message of the communication — that Union canceled the party and that TDX is cooperating and asking people not to congregate at the fraternity.
Birns acknowledged the rumors that are being spread concerning ReUnion and the beach party, stating, “One main misconception is that the letter was written by myself and sent to the campus by Dean Leavitt.”
He said that after many meetings with the Union administration, both parties decided that a letter should be written to the campus community informing the student body of the situation.
As a result, Birns drafted a letter that addressed the campus community, notifying everyone that TDX’s traditional beach party was not going to happen. Birns stated that he “stressed that the decision was made entirely on behalf of Union’s administration and that Theta Delta Chi was simply complying with Union’s decision.” The factors that led to the cancellation of the beach party were never mentioned in Birns’ original letter, but he stated that he “made it clear that Union’s administration was cancelling the party in the belief that that is what was best for Union.”
Later in Birns’ original letter, he advised that all other fraternities and sororities at Union avoid having any form of a daytime social event, in order to prevent punishment issued by the school. He stated, “This was done solely to warn other Greek organizations of the possible consequences connected to a day party. However, this portion of the letter was entirely cut out.”
Birns then went on to state: “While I believe that Dean Leavitt did not intentionally make changes to my original letter in order to construe my message in a different manner, his changes did affect the overall meaning behind what I was trying to explain.”
Birns’ biggest issue with the email that was sent to the campus community is that Leavitt did not share the revised letter with him before sending it out. Birns stated, “Being that my name is signed at the bottom, I want to ensure that the entire campus knows the truth about what was supposed to be written.”
Birns concluded, “With all being said, the changes Dean Leavitt made were not drastic or life changing. Leavitt has acknowledged his mistakes and now it is time for everybody to get over this and move forward.”