Members of the campus chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity have decided to adopt substance-free living as their primary effort to rededicate themselves to the “values and principles that were the foundation of its existence.”
“At first it was a little difficult (to gain the members” support), but this is what we have to do if we want to be strong in the future,” Beta Theta Pi President Michael Basford said. “We really feel like all the houses will be substance free in the next five years. This is getting ahead of the game for when that time comes.”
Basford said conversation with alumni and liability concerns also had an impact on their decision to become alcohol-free, a policy which has already gone into effect. Both alumni and representatives of the national fraternity have assisted the chapter throughout the rededication process.
“When we work with the chapters we view it as a partnership to find out the direction we”re heading and the direction we”d like to see the chapter headed,” said Mike Kokkinen, the fraternity”s national director of risk management.
In a written statement issued Friday, the fraternity apologized to the Greek and University communities for its conduct and violations of the Office of Greek Life”s social policies.
Basford said it was necessary for the fraternity to apologize as it rededicates itself.
“It”s going to be a whole new experience as far as the parties go,” Basford said. It”s going to come down to individuals making a conscious effort in their decisions for the fraternity to become successful in upholding the policies, he added.
Two 18-year-old women told police they were drugged and raped at the Oct. 25 semiformal event held with Delta Delta Delta at the fraternity house at 604 S. State.
The fraternity said in the statement that one of the women has since decided not to press criminal sexual misconduct charges, but the Ann Arbor Police Department is still continuing its investigation.
“We would still follow through even if someone didn”t want to pursue it,” AAPD Sgt. Michael Logghe said.
Logghe said one of the victims was reserved about pursuing prosecution. He added that this is normal in many possible sexual assault situations because of the crime”s negative effects on the victim.
The fraternity has begun to reevaluate its rush process in light of its new alcohol-free policy.
“It”s a learning process for us right now,” Basford said. “We”re in the middle of trying to get everything together.”
Delta Sigma Phi and Sigma Nu are the only fraternities on campus that have gone partially or fully substance-free. Interfraternity Council President Marc Hustvedt said Delta Sigma Phi is an alcohol-free house, but Sigma Nu designates certain rooms as substance-free.
Beta Theta Pi also plans to hold educational programs and bring in speakers to discuss issues concerning the treatment of women.
“I know there are connections through our nationals and they have a lot of experience in bringing people,” he said.
Kokkinen said he was on site a few weeks ago to assist the chapter in handling the investigation.
“My personal role was just to help the men in the process help them deal with all the authorities involved,” he said. “The chapter is committed to working with the general fraternity and the University.”
Kokkinen said the chapter and general fraternity are working on several educational directives and sanctions necessary to refocus the members in their rededication process.
“We intend to help the chapter in the areas that would be useful,” he said.
Kokkinen said when the investigation is complete, the national fraternity will take actions against the chapter members if it is necessary.