Tuesday afternoon, Treetops Resort announced it will file a civil lawsuit against individual members of the Sigma Delta Tau sorority and former members of the University’s disbanded chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity for damages during their ski trip the weekend of Jan. 19.
More than 200 members of Sigma Alpha Mu, along with members of Sigma Delta Tau, were present at the Northern Michigan ski resort that weekend. Following the trip, the SAM chapter was disbanded due to allegedly costing the resort more than $430,000 in damages, and the SDT chapter was placed on a two-year disciplinary suspension for their failure to intervene.
SDT recently launched a bystander intervention program centered around providing students with the tools necessary to intervene in difficult situations.
Barry Owens, general manager of Treetops, could not be reached for comments about the specific number of fraternity and sorority members the resort plans to sue.
“Treetops’ legal advisors have recently completed a review of the facts of the case, including recently released material prepared pursuant to the criminal investigation,” the resort said in a press release. “Criminal charges were filed against three students last month. Several facts from this review now suggest that legal action beyond the criminal matter should be pursued.”
The resort also said the resort’s management confronted the group of students involved after the first night of their stay.
“During that meeting, management pointed out that the student group had not completed their pre-payment arrangement as is typical for larger groups and that the additional money was due,” the resort said. “Treetops’ management had also discovered significant, but non-malicious damage occurred after this first night and discussed the University of Michigan’s students’ behavior with their leadership.
In a statement to the Daily, Sigma Delta Tau’s national chapter said the sorority was unaware of any pending lawsuits from the resort, and still maintain the findings of their previous investigations.
“We are not aware of any litigation involving the Chi Chapter of Sigma Delta Tau at the University of Michigan or its women,” the sorority wrote. “Through our investigation, we have found the women were not responsible for the damage incurred at Treetops Resort. We have also been made aware of multiple reports that management and security guards of The Treetops Resort and Spa did not step in to stop any of the actions while they occurred that weekend.“
In their statement, the resort said the lack of action against individuals contributed to their decision to pursue its own legal action was the lack of cooperation by the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity.
“Contributing to the decision to pursue its own legal action is the fact that to date, only three students are being charged and Treetops is not aware of the University of Michigan or the Greek organizations taking any other action against any individuals,” the resort said. “Apparently, authorities have been impeded by the refusal of the students to identify those specifically involved in the vandalism further suggesting that the damage was a group effort.”
Otsego prosecutor Michael Rola issued 30-day misdemeanor charges against Business sophomores Joshua Kaplan and Zachary Levin. The pair turned themselves in to the Ann Arbor Police Department on March 25. Matthew Vlasic, who was an LSA senior at the time of the ski trip, was arraignedon charges of malicious destruction of property.
This article has been updated to include a statement from Sigma Delta Tau’s national chapter.