BOONE — A “longstanding pattern of troubling behavior” has led the Appalachian State University Office of Student Engagement and Leadership to remove university recognition of the Omicron-Alpha chapter of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and effectively ban the organization until at least 2023.
The national TKE organization can apply for expansion to ASU no earlier than the spring semester of 2023, with a potential return in the fall semester of 2023, as long as all current TKE members are no longer active ASU students, the letter states.
The letter was written May 6 by ASU Director of Student Engagement and Leadership Jeff Cathey in response to a request by the national TKE organization for the fraternity to return to campus. The request follows a suspension that started in February 2017 that was to last “at minimum one year.”
ASU spokesperson Megan Hayes said that TKE was previously denied reinstatement in the fall of 2018 for failing to adhere to the requirements of the suspension.
The national TKE organization, based out of Indianapolis, Ind., did not respond to multiple requests to comment.
According to Cathey, during the current suspension period, he was informed of problematic social media posts, reports of police responding to calls at residential addresses of chapter members and referrals of multiple chapter members for student conduct proceedings. Hayes declined to disclose specific instances of conduct referrals, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
“The totality of these instances led Cathey to the decision that TKE has exhibited a pattern of behavior that is contradictory to our institutional values,” Hayes said.
The decision effectively dissolves the Omicron-Alpha chapter of TKE, which was founded in 1973 and boasts over 800 alums, according to its website. An appeal can only be made, according to the ASU Code of Organizational Conduct, if there was a violation of due process or a “substantial deviation” from policies and procedures.
“I will not consider a petition for expansion until a time at which all currently initiated members have moved on from (ASU) and activity under the identity of (TKE) has truly ceased for a sufficient period to demonstrate a true break from the current chapter culture,” Cathey stated in the letter.
The reinstatement request by the national organization of TKE came in a letter dated April 4 to the ASU Fraternity and Sorority Life office. A three-page letter accompanied a 64-page expansion packet that TKE sent.
“We expect this group, upon its return, to operate respectfully, thoughtfully, and as if they are re-establishing on campus, while they work towards (becoming) a top TKE chapter and a better relationship with the university,” TKE Director of Expansion Nick Kimble stated in the April 4 letter.
Kimble’s letter mentions “issues on and off” for the ASU chapter of TKE that began in 2010.
TKE isn’t the only ASU fraternity to face suspension recently. In October 2018, the ASU chapter of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity was found responsible for “violations of the (ASU) Organizational Code of Conduct during a formal hearing process including failure to comply, violation of law and violation of university, national and local policies, regulations and rules.” The chapter was suspended for two years, until October 2020.
In November 2018, the ASU chapter of the Delta Chi fraternity was issued a cease and desist by its national organization as an investigation into allegations was conducted.
Despite having three fraternities suspended or ceased in the last year, Hayes said there’s no data that shows a statistically significant trend regarding behavior changes in ASU’s student organizations. ASU is home to over 30 fraternity or sorority organizations, which have a combined 2,000-plus members, according to ASU’s Division of Student Affairs.
On its website, the ASU Division of Student Affairs keeps a public list of all Greek-related disciplinary cases going back to 2013. Many of the reported chapter incidents involve alcohol, resulting in short-term bans of hosting events with alcohol.
Hayes said that TKE’s “significant and concerning pattern of behavior” led to ASU reviewing and updating its practices for notifications of suspensions.
“Doing so is a best practice for student affairs divisions across the higher education industry,” Hayes said. “Upon our recent review of our practices, we reviewed models we felt were exemplary and changed some of our practices accordingly.”