PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University this morning notified six fraternity chapters that they will be barred from rushing for new freshmen members in August unless exonerated of involvement in the May 3 riot adjacent to campus in which 23 law enforcement officers were injured.
Conduct board hearings could lead to more severe penalties, including lifting of chapter charters and expulsion from WSU, WSU President Samuel H. Smith announced.
“The out-of-control drinking party and the melee it spawned are totally unacceptable activities for WSU students and we will not allow those found guilty of such behavior to remain as part of our community,” Smith said. “I am very pleased to say that parents, alumni and citizens are writing and calling in support of our zero-tolerance approach to this very serious matter.”
The president also said that, effective today, “The party’s over at Washington State University. I am sick of the party school image that refuses to go away, even after all the changes that have been made and progress achieved in the past 10 years. I intend to devote the next five years of my presidency to achieving permanent change in the culture of this fine university.”
Smith indicated he will ask for help from students, faculty, staff, alumni and the greater community in making that cultural change.
Pullman police estimate that 150-200 students actively participated in the Sunday morning confrontation with authorities. Total crowd estimates by law enforcement officers range from 600 to 1,000.
The six fraternities are Alpha Gamma Rho, Alpha Kappa Lambda, Kappa Sigma, Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Kappa Tau and Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Smith indicated that more fraternities may be implicated in the May 3 debacle.
The letter each chapter received states: “Information leads us to believe that your fraternity and/or members of your fraternity were heavily involved in the activities that took place.” The letter adds that conduct noted may violate policies and regulations spelled out in the 1997-98 WSU Student Handbook, the Fraternal Organization Agreement, House Bill 1082, which the chapter signed for the 1997-98 school year, and Greek social policies.
Specific aspects of the Student Code of Conduct that may have been violated range from violation of local ordinance and state laws to reckless endangerment.
WSU is also preparing for individual conduct hearings for the dozens of students who have been identified so far from videotapes and still photographs through the investigation being conducted by a joint task force including Pullman and WSU police officers.
The president indicated that individuals other than fraternity members appear to have been involved in the altercation.
“When we have sufficient evidence that certain individuals were involved, we will proceed with due process laid out under university policy and state law, including a formal hearing process by our conduct board,” Smith indicated.
Sanctions will range from probation to suspension to expulsion.
“I am confident the conduct board will levy the correct sanctions regardless of the class standing of the students involved, even for students in their final semester,” the president said.
The conduct board is comprised of WSU faculty members and students.
In the letters to fraternities, the university states that complete investigations of the May 3 incident and fraternity involvement will be conducted over the summer. Each fraternity is required to provide a list of members to Student Affairs by May 11 and to instruct those members to cooperate promptly with requests from Students Affairs for investigative meetings.
“Pending the outcome of our investigation and appropriate hearings of this case, the university will not renew its fraternal organization agreement with [your fraternity. Your fraternity] will not participate in any rush functions or actively rush any prospective students until or unless such agreement is signed,” the letter states.