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WVU imposes temporary ban on fraternity recruiting, social activities

Tom Fontaine
| Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, 11:36 a.m.
West Virginia president E. Gordon Gee talks to a reporter at Stewart Hall on the university's campus in Morgantown,W.Va. on Jan. 22, 2015
Barry Reeger | Trib Total Media
West Virginia president E. Gordon Gee talks to a reporter at Stewart Hall on the university's campus in Morgantown,W.Va. on Jan. 22, 2015

West Virginia University on Wednesday temporarily banned 16 fraternities from engaging in social and recruiting activities in an effort to combat what it called “continued behavioral issues.”

WVU President Gordon Gee said the decision comes amid a growing national debate over Greek life on college campuses, with several institutions banning fraternities and sororities or tightly clamping down on activities in the wake of problems. Gee didn't identify any specific incidents in Morgantown, but said the university has “had a few of our own in recent weeks.”

“I cannot in good conscience as your president stand by and do nothing,” Gee said in a statement.

The university's Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life will lead a review of Greek policies and procedures and determine which fraternities should be invited back to “full recognition” status in the upcoming fall semester.

In addition to the moratorium, WVU is immediately raising the required grade point average to join a fraternity or sorority to 2.75 from 2.5. By 2020, a 3.0 GPA will be required.

The moratorium applies to the following fraternities: Alpha Gamma Rho, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Alpha Sigma Phi, Kappa Alpha Order. Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Gamma Delta, Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Sigma Kappa, Pi Kappa Alpha, Pi Kappa Phi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Alpha Mu, Sigma Chi, Sigma Nu, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Theta Chi.

The university said they will be allowed to continue basic fraternity operations, brotherhood events and philanthropic and service activities.

The moratorium does not apply to traditionally African American fraternities and sororities and other sororities that belong to the Panhellenic Association.

In January, a University of Pittsburgh student was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning after drinking to excess at an off-campus recruitment event for the Sigma Chi fraternity. Pitt officials said this month that police do not intend to pursue charges against Sigma Chi or its members, but the fraternity would remain on interim suspension while Pitt's offices of Student Affairs and Fraternity and Sorority Life continued to review the incident.

Penn State President Eric J. Barron called this month for new state and federal laws and cooperation from national Greek life organizations to end dangerous drinking and hazing rituals. Barron's call came nearly a year after Timothy Piazza, 19, died after falling down a flight of steps at Penn State's former Beta Theta Pi house and fraternity brothers waited 12 hours to call for help. Several fraternity brothers face criminal charges.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review assistant news editor.

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