In response to a string of reported hazing incidents, the Alpha Theta chapter of Phi Kappa Tau at the College of William and Mary quietly lost its charter due to a decision by the fraternity’s national organization handed down last month.
After the chapter was suspended from the College Feb. 7, Phi Kappa Tau then lost its national charter almost exactly a month shy of its Founder’s Day, March 17. This is the second time the College has suspended its local Phi Kappa Tau chapter. The fraternity’s charter was first revoked in 1981, a sentence that lasted for four years, after which the chapter was reinstated.
“Although we take pride in providing undergraduates the opportunity to learn through the hands-on experiences of self-governing and accountability, there are situations that sometimes arise where a critical mass negatively influences a chapter’s direction,” Phi Kappa Tau National President Greg Heilmeier said in a Feb. 17 press release. “We have reached a point with our chapter at William & Mary where closing is in the best interest for all those involved.”
The national organization said it considered the chapter’s most recent incident as an indication of Phi Kappa Tau’s unwillingness to change its behavior, despite efforts from the College to encourage reform.
“With the time and energy that has been offered to these young men by the alumni advisors, as well as the professionals at William & Mary, it’s disappointing to see that we have come to this point,” Phi Kappa Tau CEO Steve Hartman said in a press release.
The national organization suspended the College’s chapter last fall, following an alleged assault resulting from a fraternity-organized scavenger hunt in which a student was told to steal the hat of a Colonial Williamsburg employee. Prior to the incident, the chapter was already on probation with the College, stemming from charges of property damage at a Virginia Beach hotel during a fraternity formal.
“Based on the group having other disciplinary actions in the last two years, it was our decision that we suspend the group’s charter, and our board acted swiftly to do that,” Phi Kappa Tau Director of Chapter Services Tim Hudson said.
The national fraternity worked with the chapter’s local alumni board and the Office of the Dean of Students — which delivered a letter to the chapter president suspending operations until at least 2015 in considering and issuing its decision.
“I think, clearly, it provides us with an opportunity to hold ourselves accountable and to support the mission of our fraternity,” Hudson said. “Collectively, there were poor decisions made by a group, and not reflective of our organization as a fraternity.”
At the end of the designated three-year period, Phi Kappa Tau plans to reapply for official recognition with new members.
“Our goal is to return to campus with a strong chapter that upholds the goals of our organization,” Hudson said. “We’re not excited about the way things ended, but we’re confident we have a strong organization to return in the future.”
According to the Inter-Fraternity Council, uninitiated Phi Kappa Tau pledges have the opportunity to join another fraternity, but initiated members are barred from doing so.
“There’s an opportunity for [initiated brothers] to be alumni members upon their graduation from the institution, and that’s something we outlined for them … and there are things that are not acceptable for them to do, moving forward,” Hudson said.
When asked, the officials for the College’s Phi Kappa Tau chapter, Alpha Theta, declined to comment on the issue of the charter.