Fraternity & Sorority LifeNews

[Updated] Phi Kappa Psi chapter closed, no longer recognized by national headquarters

Update at 3:13 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25: The University of Oregon chapter of Phi Kappa Psi is closed and no longer recognized as an official chapter by the fraternity’s national headquarters and the university, according to a statement from Beth Headrick, a spokeswoman for the fraternity’s national headquarters.

The Phi Kappa Psi chapter at the University of Oregon was closed, effective July 18 at the completion of a joint investigation between the University of Oregon and Phi Kappa Psi officials,” Headrick wrote in an email to the Emerald. “The chapter is no longer recognized by Phi Kappa Psi headquarters or the University of Oregon. The chapter is eligible for return in the fall of 2020. No further updates are available at this time.”

While the national headquarters did not respond to the Emerald’s specific questions regarding the living accommodations of the fraternity’s members, Katy Larkin, the associate director of student conduct and community standards, told the Emerald in an interview on Tuesday that, to her knowledge, the house will not be occupied next year.  

“The facility is not owned by the university, so we’re unable to direct them on how to use their space,” Larkin said. “But our understanding is that they will not be living in that space.”

The closure of the chapter comes days after the end of a dual investigation conducted by the national headquarters and the UO into a defamatory document which caused the fraternity to be suspended for two years.

According to the decision letter provided to the Emerald, the Division of Student Life found the fraternity in violation of the university’s hazing policy

The policy in the student conduct code defines hazing as “any initiation rites, recruitment and continuing involvement and belonging to an organization on or off campus, involving any intentional action or situation that a reasonable person would foresee as causing mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, or ridicule.” The investigation found the document to be a violation of that policy.

If students want to start a Phi Kappa Psi chapter on campus, they will need to go through a re-recognition process with its headquarters and then the university in order to become a recognized fraternity on campus.

“They would basically be applying to be a new fraternity in terms of the steps that they would go through,” said UO spokesman Tobin Klinger in an interview with the Emerald on Tuesday.

Following their re-recognition by the UO, the fraternity will have to undergo education each winter term for three years on the topic of gender-based bullying and bystander intervention.

The Emerald will continue to report on this story as developments occur.

The University of Oregon Phi Kappa Psi chapter has been suspended for two years following a UO investigation into a defamatory document labeled with the fraternity’s name and containing the names of many of its members, after finding that it violated the university’s Student Conduct Code.

The investigation into the 32-page document, which contained homophobic slurs, rape jokes and derogatory language directed toward women, started in May, following the Emerald’s publication of a story revealing the document’s existence, and concluded Wednesday.

The chapter will no longer be recognized by UO and must cease all activities, including those both on and off UO grounds, such as campus recruitment.

The suspension will begin in September 2018 and will end in August 2020, but Phi Kappa Psi’s status will not be reinstated until the chapter goes through a process that requires chapter members to attend mandatory education. Chapter members cannot recruit new members until the chapter becomes university recognized.

The Emerald reached out to Phi Kappa Psi president Michael Wagemann for comment on Friday afternoon but did not hear back before publication of this article.

UO determined that the chapter was responsible for the conduct violation and not any individual students, said UO spokesman Tobin Klinger, who did not have further specifics at the time.

Suspension is the second-highest form of sanction, which becomes progressively more stringent with repeated violations. The highest form of group sanctions is disbandment, which requires members to dissolve their organization. The highest form of sanction on individual students is expulsion.

The 2-month-long investigation involved interviews by a third-party investigator with a random sample of new and current fraternity members to determine any student conduct code violations.

Other UO fraternities have also been previously suspended: Chi Psi and Sigma Pi were suspended until fall 2018 for alcohol and hazing violations.

Klinger did not know at the time as to whether the document could be classified as a type of hazing.

Unrecognized fraternities and sororities may attempt to continue to operate, which UO considers “underground activity” that violates UO policy, according to the UO Fraternity and Sorority Life website. Beta Theta Pi, Chi Psi, Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Pi are all unrecognized fraternities.

The Emerald will continue to report on this story as it develops.

Corrections: This article was corrected to fix a first-reference error to Tobin Klinger. Delta Tau Delta is no longer on a suspended status. A previous version of this story stated that Klinger couldn’t provide further explanation on the suspension. It has been updated to reflect that he provided all the information that was available at the time.

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Ryan Nguyen

Ryan Nguyen

Ryan ("Nayr" ) Nguyen is the podcast editor. He's a sophomore who is studying journalism and computer information technology, aka making pretty websites.

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