Northern Kentucky University has sanctioned the Phi Kappa Tau and Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternities and found them responsible for violating the student organization code following their controversial recruitment activities on Sept. 16.
The Office of Student Life and Dean of Students Kent Kelso decided that both fraternities must complete educational workshops and will be put “on notice.”
“We have found them responsible, and they have accepted responsibility, for violating the rules and criteria for registered student organizations,” said Betty Mulkey, director of student life.
“Activities are supposed to be positive and educationally sound,” she said, “and we feel that there were some elements of their activities that were not so.”
“We looked at each of them individually. They were both found responsible. They have similar sanctions. But they were individual decisions,” she said.
The sanction of Phi Tau began Oct. 17, and the sanction of TKE took effect Oct. 30.
She said both fraternity chapters must complete a series of educational workshops.
The first must be completed by the end of this semester, and the second by the end of the next semester.
Mulkey said the workshop topics will be sexual harassment and how to apply fraternity values to daily life while enhancing the community through fraternity activities.
Each fraternity will be permitted to choose its own speakers and presenters for the workshops, but Mulkey said the Office of Student Life would have the final say over the program agenda.
The fraternities have also been placed on notice, which is similar to a warning, in that harsher penalties will be enforced if either fraternity again steps out of line.
“They need to carefully examine all of their activities, and they are on notice,” Mulkey said. “If there are additional concerns brought forward of other activities, there will be further and more severe sanctions.”
“What we have said to them is that any further behavior that’s incongruent with the values of the university can result in additional and more severe sanctions. They have a lot to lose at this point,” she said.
Mulkey said the Office of Student Life made the decision of how to sanction the fraternities, and the Dean of Students Kent Kelso approved it. The decision was then handed down to the two fraternity chapters.
“They have the right to appeal it,” she said. “Should they choose to appeal it, they will appeal it through the Dean of Students’s office.”
Mulkey said the Interfraternal Council (IFC) plans to examine its policies in terms of what information the chapter must submit when it requests university space for fraternity activities.
IFC President Luke Groeschen declined to comment.
“We’re gonna have a conversation with IFC about whether it serves them well to have women at recruitment,” Mulkey said.
“I think that they would save themselves a lot of anguish if they did their recruitment more like the sororities, where it’s just them,” Mulkey said. “We could at least make some compromises in that area.”
“This has been a teachable moment for, hopefully, all student organizations,” she said. “They have to carefully think about these things. They are allowed to function here as guests of the university.”
The sanctions come after students complained that the fraternities’ Sept. 16 recruitment activities, including a condom relay and Jell-O wrestling, were inappropriate and demeaning to women.