By Gabriella Levine
On Monday, October 15, Delta Kappa Epsilon received sanctions and were put on extensive probation due to an event that occurred on September 15, 2012.
The sanctions were sent via email to President of DKE Rahul Puttagunta ’14. The email was signed by Senior Associate Dean of Students Trish Williams, and declared that the fraternity had been found guilty of the following sanctions: having a keg and/or a common source of alcohol, violating the social event policy, having an unauthorized party with alcohol and failure to comply with a college official.
On October 5, the fraternity was assigned nine points for these violations.
The subsequent punishments for the fraternity include social probation for the remainder of the academic year and loss of the exclusive use of their common space in Fox North beginning winter term. These sanctions are binding and, if violated, will result in further punishment for DKE.
According to Social Chair and Rush Chair of DKE and Vice President of the junior class, Chris Sainato’s ’14, account of the September 15 event, DKE “had alumni come over, they brought us kegs. As leaders of the house, we failed by letting the kegs into the house and we accept responsibility for that.”
Sainato agreed that DKE’s possession of the kegs explained the first sanction, which included five points. Otherwise, “the biggest reason why it’s unfair is because the punishment we’ve been dealt does not match our actions,” Sainato said. The other four points given to DKE were for holding an unauthorized social event; however, Sainato argued that the number of the people at the house that night was not enough to qualify as an unauthorized social event or party. He claimed that Campus Safety agreed with this assessment upon arrival to DKE on the night of the event. Campus safety was unavailable to comment on the issue.
President of the Interfraternity Council Oliver DeClue ’13 also weighed in on the administration’s handling of the issue. “Normally, in a situation like this when a house is given so many points, you go before the Greek Judicial Board,” he said. DeClue presides over these hearings but he was not contacted during the judicial process to determine DKE’s sanctions. Sainato believed this was unfair: “I think it’s important to be put in front of your peers as a deciding factor but…it was decided to give us nine points without an IFC hearing.”
President of Delta Delta Delta Amanda Librot ’13 agreed: “It’s surprising that this is the first I’m hearing about these extreme sanctions considering I sit on the Greek life Task Force and Panhel. Based on DKE’s clean record, this drastic punishment doesn’t quite seem to fit the situation.”
According to IFC and Panhel, DKE did not have any problems passing their two year renewal in the spring for their house. Dean of Students Steve Leavitt said, ‘They’re not on my radar.’
The deans who made the decision are Associate Dean of Students and Director of Minerva Programs Tom McEvoy, Dean of First-Year students Kate Schurick and Dean Patricia Williams.
Dean McEvoy explained that DKE did not get a judicial hearing and instead was directly dealt with by the deans because, “once a fraternity hits a certain point level, it is turned over to the deans instead for a hearing. The IFC wouldn’t have heard this case because the point value was so high that it was bumped right up.”
Dean Leavitt voiced his concerns about the issue: “I’ve been worried about the student reaction about the change in Greek Director and that they would blame him,” Leavitt said.
Director of Greek Life Sunni Solomon was contacted about the status of the DKE judiciary situation, but he “respectfully declined” to comment.
Leavitt also added that, “Sunni has not changed anything. He is just coming in and trying to learn how we do things.”
Puttagunta partly believes that the sanctions were given for unjustified reasons. “We feel that we are being unfairly targeted for housing space due to a perceived lack of numbers when, in reality, we will have more than enough people to fill the house,” he noted.
Dean McEvoy mentioned that this issue has been noted by the administration. “Given that there are so many students who are crowded in terms of their living space and that DKE has really not filled their house, that is a lot of extra space they’re occupying. It is a privilege for the Greeks to be living in college-owned housing, so they really need to abide by the rules of the college,” he said.
Puttagunta’s voiced his skepticism and concern— “The nine points are nonnegotiable. No parties for the rest of the year, that is all about the keg. But taking away our house? That is purely based on numbers.” Housing concerns were not specified in the official sanctions sent to Puttagunta.
In regards to precedents in situations comparable to DKE’s, Leavitt wanted to ensure the student body that there is consistency in the behind-the-scenes decision-making. “If they have a keg at a party, they have a keg at a party. There is really no point in sending it to the Student Conduct board. They had the keg, the keg was there, it equals X number of points and the case is done,” he noted.
McEvoy concurred: “We looked at Greek life last year when there were a lot of problems. We were trying to reform Greek life, so when an incident like this comes along, when kegs have been banned for two years, the college has to look at the case and say, ‘that’s outside the bounds,’ and we thought it was.”
He continued to say that the deans understand the negative reaction from the campus community. “We know we’re not going to be looked upon by the students as doing them a favor,” he said, “but the message was received loud and clear last year that there was a lot of trouble with how the Greeks were operating.”
“All I can do is assure you that we do try to be consistent. My concern, and I believe this firmly, is that the deans ought to be consistent from case to case when making their decisions. The issue is that each case has it’s own circumstances, so it’s very difficult to compare…It is hard for me to justify [the deans’s] decision to the students because there are details in these cases that I can’t share with students,” Leavitt remarked.
Leavitt sought to clarify things further. “This is not a reflection of the Sunni regime versus the Timothy [Dunn, former Director of Greek Life] reign. I guess Sunni is being more responsible,” he said.
As far as the next steps go, Puttagunta was optimistic: “We have thirteen guys [pledges] that are what we think are going to be the new face of fraternities. Smart kids, some mechanical engineers, all who are great and love to have a great time.”