BLACKSBURG, Va. – Their houses stand just off campus, Greek letters advertising their organization, but Virginia Tech wants its community to know that the eight suspended groups it lists are operating outside of the university’s control.
Virginia Tech says it wants to be honest about Greek life, continuing the conversation about behavior in fraternities and sororities. A new report compiled by a 20-staff-member commission, made public Thursday, looked at the good and the bad with Greek life culture and said the university wants to make sure parents and students know which groups have the highest standards.
It said Virginia Tech does not have some of the serious hazing problems plaguing schools around the country, but it can still improve.
“I think that the report has done a very good job of being very transparent and open and honest in taking a look at exactly what is the climate right now inside fraternity and sorority life,” said Tracy Vosburgh, senior associate vice president for university relations.
The report said the organizations that have lost their official status with the university for hazing or other violations “are a serious threat to the reputation of Virginia Tech.”
The school doesn’t want people confusing those with organizations in good standing.
“There is some confusion in the community about those fraternities and sororities that are recognized by the universities and those that are not,” Vosburgh said.
With move-in day coming next month, the school wants to raise awareness among parents and incoming freshmen.
“As a parent I would want to know and I would think that prospective students would want to know as well,” said Cynthia Norris, a parent of an incoming freshman.
Her son said the information is helpful.
“If I was interested in it then I think that having the warning definitely would influence my decision, at least for those fraternities,” Bryan Norris said.
Some members of the suspended organizations feel the university is painting them in an unfair light.
“They think we're bad influences but I don't think it's any different from the Greek life on campus,” Kappa Sigma member Jack Weston said.
The fraternity has 60 members and is still recruiting.
“They don't want us affiliated with the school because they think it's a bad name,” Weston said. “In reality I think it's not as bad as what they think.”
He said the fraternity has raised its standards since the activity that took place that got it suspended.
The suspended organizations are: Alpha Epsilon Pi, Center Club (formerly Sigma Chi), Delta Kappa Epsilon, Kappa Sigma, Lambda Chi Alpha, Omicron Alpha Kappa (formerly Kappa Delta Rho), Theta Delta Chi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
The Virginia Tech report recommends the university do a study soon just focused on hazing, and increase the resources available to Greek life groups.
The commission looked at research studies, data and media reports and took tours of houses and had discussions with Greek life members.
The alumni association of the Virginia Tech chapter of Kappa Sigma sent 10 News the following statement:
“The Nu Prime Alumni Association fully supports Kappa Sigma and takes exception to its characterization as a 'serious threat to the reputation of Virginia Tech.' The Nu Prime chapter of Kappa Sigma is in good standing with the Kappa Sigma national organization and worked diligently to be fully recognized by Virginia Tech after a four-year suspension. They achieved that goal only to have their recognition revoked by Tech for an infraction that did not result in the loss of recognition by the Kappa Sigma national organization. This was due to the harshness of the penalty and not 'potential lost revenue' as posited by the task force report. While we understand the need to mitigate liabilities related to Greek organizations, we feel that Tech administrators have been overly harsh in their treatment of Kappa Sigma which impacts not only our beloved organization but the reputations of those that support it. As a result of this report, many in our organization are considering altering their charitable activities related to Tech. We hope that Tech will refrain from publishing this 'hit list' and will take steps to engage with those organizations that have shown a willingness to play by the rules and work toward better outcomes for all involved.”