In an effort to increase transparency, the College of William and Mary began a new initiative April 2 to make public the disciplinary history of recognized student organizations through the Office of Student Conduct’s website. Although this information was available previously to individuals who requested it, it was not readily available to the general public.
“This is an initiative we have been working on for some time. We want to make this information more readily available so that students and parents can assess the disciplinary history of organizations a student may plan to join and make informed decisions. This information will also provide greater transparency to the broader community regarding disciplinary outcomes.”
“This is an initiative we have been working on for some time,” Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Conduct Dave Gilbert said in a press statement. “We want to make this information more readily available so that students and parents can assess the disciplinary history of organizations a student may plan to join and make informed decisions. This information will also provide greater transparency to the broader community regarding disciplinary outcomes.”
The published list will include all incidents that result in sanctions of disciplinary probation, and will also include case summaries and details on specific consequences. Individual case summaries will remain online for three academic years or until the sanctions are complete.
According to Dean of Students Marjorie Thomas, one incentive for publishing this list is to hold students to a higher level of compliance with College policy and law.
“Our students know that all organizations are expected to abide by the Student Code of Conduct and all applicable laws with the goal to provide membership experiences that are safe and affirming. We hope this list will also serve as added impetus for greater compliance.”
“Our students know that all organizations are expected to abide by the Student Code of Conduct and all applicable laws with the goal to provide membership experiences that are safe and affirming,” Thomas said in a press statement. “We hope this list will also serve as added impetus for greater compliance.”
The initial list published April 2 will contain 16 disciplinary outcomes involving student organizations. The earliest of these reported offenses dates to fall 2014. The website will be updated each time a sanction resulting in disciplinary probation or greater is finalized. On average, the Office of Student Conduct sees four or five cases a year that result in such sanctions.
Eight of the 11 organizations included on the website as of April 2 are members of the College’s Fraternity and Sorority Life. These organizations are Kappa Delta Rho, Pi Kappa Alpha, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Beta Theta Pi, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Sigma Pi, Delta Phi and Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha. The other three organizations receiving such sanctions are the men’s rugby team, the club sailing team and the Queen’s Guard.
The allegations resulting in these sanctions all dealt with either hazing or alcohol offenses.
Some organizations are on the published list multiple times for similar offenses. Two reports were filed in August 2015 against Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity for hazing and providing alcohol to minors. The reports say that during a “clue week” activity, members of the fraternity hosted events and provided alcohol to minors. Additionally, the reports detail a scavenger hunt where new members were asked to perform “menial” and “degrading” tasks. The fraternity was placed under disciplinary probation through the end of the fall 2015 semester for these reports.
Some of these conduct reports, such as the ones for the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, had previously been made public. Others had not, and no official university statement has been issued as a result of the reported actions.
The organizations that are not a part of the College’s FSL also were reported for similar offenses. One of the older reports, stemming from November 2014, states that the Queen’s Guard, also known as the Society of Pershing Rifles, required its members to participate in significant physical activity from 8 p.m. to midnight. They then provided underage new members with alcohol at an off-campus house. As a result of this report, the group was required to identify and retain a faculty advisor, review bylaws and remained under disciplinary probation until February 2, 2015.
Another group, the men’s rugby team, was reported various times during the fall 2014 semester. These reports say that the team members hosted unregistered events involving alcohol and gave new members nicknames that some found “unwelcome.” As a result of these reports, the team was under disciplinary probation through the end of the spring 2016 semester and lost privileges to participate in club activities until March 13, 2015.
The latest date that any of these conduct records is scheduled to be removed from the website is 2021. The two organizations scheduled to remain on the website the longest are Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha, which lost its recognition as a student organization in the fall 2017 semester for hazing its new members, and the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity. Kappa Delta Rho was reported August 30, 2017 when the William and Mary Police Department went to an unregistered on-campus event and observed that there were open alcohol containers in the hallway. The fraternity remained under disciplinary probation and lost their social privileges until February 25, 2018.
The most detailed case summaries are for Delta Phi, one of seven fraternities on the list. The reports were made in September 2016 and have resulted in the fraternity being under disciplinary probation until the end of the spring 2018 semester. The reports say that the fraternity provided underage new members with alcohol at bid day and bid signing day and also required new member to participate in significant physical activity early in the morning and perform tasks to receive signatures from other members.
Gilbert said that the only thing new about this website is the level of access it gives to the public.
“What is new here is the ease of access,” Gilbert said. “This information has always been available for the asking; this just makes it more accessible.”