Greek life leaders silent over investigations into allegations linking unapproved social events with recent COVID outbreak

Delta Kappa Epsilon and Phi Kappa Psi are both currently under investigation after alleged violations of school policy. (Photo by Maddie Costello ’21)

All Greek life activities at Lafayette have been canceled as of Oct. 21 amid an investigation into alleged misconduct both before and after Covid-19 cases began to emerge on campus in mid-October. 

The allegations, which have come in from social media and anonymous reporting, allege that fraternities – specifically Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE), Phi Kappa Psi (Phi Psi), and Delta Upsilon (DU) – have been hosting events, possibly including alcohol, for current sophomores and have not abided by physical distancing guidelines, according to a letter delivered to the presidents of all Greek Life organizations by Vice President for Campus Life Annette Diorio. 

DKE President John Schroeder ’21 declined to comment. DU President Euan Walker ’21 and Phi Psi President Taylor Madeiros ’21 could not be reached after multiple requests for comment.

Sorority members have also been implicated. An anonymous report alleged “theme parties” on several weekends, while others mentioned events from a recent weekend involving members of Delta Gamma (DG), according to the letter. 

DG President Maria Salmeron Melendez ’21 said that “at this time, I decline to comment.”

Diorio noted that although only a few organizations were implicated by name, shutting down all Greek life activities proved necessary amid the recent spike in cases on campus. A total of 19 students have tested positive for the virus since October 14, including seven positive cases on Oct. 17, the highest single-day total of the semester so far. 

“The assertions about the disregard for the rules and safety of the community related to COVID-19 extend widely and it requires more sweeping action on our part,” Diorio wrote in an email.

Although the investigation is still ongoing, Diorio wrote in another email yesterday that chapter leadership can work with their advisors and national offices to map out “at least” a path to recruitment before Thanksgiving. The message was sent to all Greek presidents and promised a more formal letter to “outline expectations for concluding new member education,” once they have heard from all the groups. 

“Presidents are expected to work with their advisers and headquarters staff on the plan but not to resume recruitment activities until directed to do so by [director of student involvement Vanessa Pearson]. Once the plan is approved you and your adviser and headquarters staff will be notified in writing of the approval to proceed,” Diorio wrote.

Pearson declined to comment, deferring to Diorio’s response. The Greek life houses which were not implicated in Diorio’s letter also declined to comment on the matter. 

One of the Greek organization leaders, speaking on the condition of anonymity to disclose private conversations, explained that on a phone call with Diorio last Sunday, chapter presidents were informed that “none of the charges they are investigating would result in an organization not being allowed to rush.”

They went on to explain that they were informed that a hazing charge is Lafayette’s standard for removing rush privileges.

Many of the reports of alleged misconduct have come from social media, in particular the Instagram page @abolishgreeklifeatlaf. The account, which has gained over 1000 followers, posted an anonymous report on Oct. 21, which claimed that the recent spike in cases can be attributed to parties held by DG, DKE, and Phi Psi. Diorio noted the influence of this account on popular perceptions of Greek life on campus.  

“Wrapped in the abolish Greek life movement is the notion that membership in Greek organizations provides an absolution from responsibility for choices that negatively impact others,” she noted in her letter. “It is the responsibility of members of the organizations to refute this, and one way to do that is to hold your members accountable for the choices they make that negatively impact peers.” 

Until the investigation is complete, the chapters must stop new member education, recruitment, as well as virtual events. Social events at off-campus locations are likewise prohibited, according to Diorio. 

“The “[Greek organizations] have been cooperative [in the investigation],” Diorio said.  “I have no further comment other than to say an investigation does not imply that organizations will be charged with any violations of policy and even if charged does not imply responsibility.” 

Angelique Taveras ’21 (Pi Beta Phi), Audrey Karmen-Tuohy ’22 (Alpha Phi), Alessia Valentino ’22 (Alpha Gamma Delta), Liza Thompson ’21 (Kappa Kappa Gamma), Jack Chelstowski ’22 (Chi Phi), and Josh Pennington ’21 (Delta Tau Delta), declined to comment. Mason Marsh ’22 (Zeta Psi) could not be reached for comment.

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