University considering sanctions for six Greek life chapters

By Michael Sugerman, Daily News Editor
Published February 19, 2015

After six University Greek life chapters drew criticism last month for causing extensive damage to two Northern Michigan ski resorts, discussion about the incidents surfaced at Thursday’s meeting of the University’s Board of Regents.

At the meeting, Interfraternity Council President Alex Krupiak, an LSA senior, and Panhellenic Association President Maddy Walsh, a Business junior, issued apologies on behalf of the Greek community and said Greek life judicial proceedings have already recommended sanctions for those involved.

“We have been collectively embarrassed and humbled by the actions of some of our members,” Krupiak said. “We fully understand how our actions impacted everyone involved… and that severe measures need to be taken.”

Krupiak added that students have already faced the Student Organization Advancement and Recognition’s judicial process. The system referred cases to the chapters’ respective student governing body, the Greek Activities Review Panel.

GARP is the judicial branch for the University’s Greek Councils — the Panhellenic Association, the Interfraternity Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and the Multicultural Greek Council.

Hearings are currently underway and Krupiak said GARP has recommended sanctions, which are currently under review by Dean of Students Laura Blake Jones.

“The only way to move forward completely from this is to ensure that every member understands the consequences of his or her behavior,” Krupiak said.

“We also recognize that, regardless of if an individual caused damage or not, each member had a responsibility to be an active bystander,” he added. “Failing to do so caused major ramifications for their entire organizations and the University as a whole.”

A damaged reputation for the University has been a major complaint for University administrators. E. Royster Harper, vice president for student life, said in a January interview with The Michigan Daily that the “ski trip” vandalism marked a turning point in the University’s interaction with Greek life on campus.

“We can’t keep going this way,” she said. “Too much at risk. Too many safety issues. We can’t keep behaving like we have this system, and because there are so many good things about the system, that makes the things that are unhealthy and dangerous about the system okay. And that’s what we’ve been doing. I think that Up North was a wakeup call for us as an institution and as a community.”

University President Mark Schlissel added in a February interview with the Daily that the incident made him quite angry, and emphasized that measures were necessary beyond making those responsible pay for the damages.

“Simply allowing restitution to be paid and thinking that that’s all that happens when you do something that actually seems criminal, that’s not right either,” he said. “So I do think that we need to use our existing procedures to figure out what happened, try to figure out who individually is responsible, and have an appropriate punishment that will really ask people to wake up and look at what they’ve done and consider very seriously their behavior in the future.”

Walsh said leaders from the Greek community plan to work together and with University administrators to shift the Greek life culture and prevent similar events from occurring again. She also noted the importance of pairing formal sanctions with other measures.

“While I cannot speak to the exact sanctions, I would expect that punitive measures would be the most effective if paired with restorative and educational efforts as well,” Walsh said.

Regent Denise Ilitch (D–Bingham Farms) thanked Krupiak and Walsh for their comments and said she accepted their collective apology. She noted that, as a University alum and former member of Greek life, she was happy to see students working to ameliorate unhealthy practices.