The WSU student conduct board sanctioned the Pi Beta Phi sorority on Feb. 3 due to evidence of hazing and underage drinking.
Darin Watkins, the WSU executive director of external communications, said the board received complaints about an event in October involving hazing and underage drinking. The sorority has 21 days to file an appeal of the sanctions with the WSU Appeals Board, he said.
“In this case, because of Washington law, it involves the severe penalty which is loss of support from the university,” Watkins said. “The sanctions outlined by the conduct board don’t go into play until the appeals process.”
Dean of Students Melynda Huskey said the Conduct Board heard evidence on the charges when the complaints came in and found the sorority responsible for the events. Washington law closely defines acts of hazing and the university follows that law by revoking their recognition of the sorority, the harshest penalty allowed, she said.
“They will no longer able to participate in intramurals as a sorority, there will be no discounted rates, use of university facilities and no support in terms of university fraternity and sorority life,” Huskey said.
The university is not involved financially with Pi Beta Phi, so the sanction only addresses university recognition of the sorority.
In the appeals process, Pi Beta Phi can present evidence for the university appeals board to review, Huskey said. The board can uphold or revise the sanctions but cannot impose more stringent sanctions, she said.
If Pi Beta Phi’s recognition is revoked they can reapply for recognition in June of 2014, Huskey said. Depending on the decision of the national Pi Beta Phi sorority, WSU’s chapter may still be able to stay open without the support of the university, she said.
“They wouldn’t be allowed to compete in events, but could choose to continue to operate as an individual sorority,” Huskey said. “However, the national organization can also choose to revoke the charter.”
Huskey said she is not aware of the sorority having put in an appeal yet. Nothing official happens until the appeal period is over, meaning sanctions have not yet been invoked, she said.
“Underage drinking and hazing is something we absolutely cannot tolerate,” Huskey said. “Whenever there is a situation of hazing we need to act quickly because that is very harmful.”
The university is sorry that there was underage drinking and that students were hazed, Huskey said. The administration works to provide a safe and healthy environment for all students, she said.
“There are lots of fraternities and sororities that have exemplary records, and fraternities and sororities can be a positive option,” Huskey said. “Sometimes things go wrong, and we want to work with those students educationally.”
WSU’s Panhellenic Council declined comment at this point in time.