Reporting Fraternity Infractions


In an attempt to head off more serious problems when fraternity chapters are found guilty of judicial infractions, the Office of Student Development has begun notifying not only fraternity members, but also their parents and chapter alumni.

Since the spring, letters written by Kacie Wallace ’89, associate dean for judicial affairs, have been sent out to members, parents, and alumni of three fraternities—Delta Sigma Phi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and Sigma Nu. Wallace says parents and alumni are being included in the mailings “because we want to gather their support while working with the group to straighten out any problems. We’d rather them hear about it from us early on than read about it after the fact.”

Todd Adams, assistant dean of student development, adds, “The letters were designed to put everyone into the information loop and ensure that all parties were on the same page before the academic year began.” He says that “each organization has a different circumstance, but by and large there were some behavior patterns that were not in keeping with the standards of Duke University.”

Previously, Wallace says, these types of action letters were only sent to chapter presidents, and the information didn’t always get communicated to the members, let alone their parents or chapter alumni. “Obviously,” she says, “we’ve had a couple of negative comments from alumni who say, ‘Why can’t we let boys be boys?’ ” But the overall reaction to the letters has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

Parents have called to find out if their sons were involved, and dozens of alumni have asked how they might be able to help. “They’ve been very supportive,” Wallace says. “They’ve said, ‘We want our chapters to be successful and we’re willing to help any way that we can.’ They also thank us for copying them [with the action letters].”

Michael Wick ’02, president of the Interfraternity Council, says he understands why the administration has begun notifying parents and alumni. “I believe that the administration sent the letters to the parents and alumni to instill a sense of urgency in these specific fraternities so that they would have adequate time to make the necessary changes to be able to stay on campus,” he says. “While I may agree with the administration’s communication efforts in these recent situations, I plan on working with the fraternities this year in improving communications within their chapters so that these letters will not have to be used again.

“I am confident that these recent events will encourage all of the fraternities to resolve problems better in the future, before the administration feels it necessary to involve fraternity members’ parents and alumni.”

Wallace says Student Development officials plan to meet with members of the three fraternities to address their problems. “They’re interested in us coming in and hearing their concerns,” she says. “Some students seem to appreciate what we’ve done, others are angry, and others are eager to work with us. Fraternities are an integral part of Duke and we not only expect them to adhere to community standards, but to be leaders in creating a welcoming atmosphere to all students.”

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