The University of Texas at Arlington has reached an important benchmark toward becoming one of Texas top research universities
University of Texas at Arlington officials have suspended all fraternity and sorority social events as of Monday.
In a statement, UTA said the suspension was due to “concerns regarding the culture of the fraternal community both at UTA and nationally.”
The university said it will create a campus “Fraternity and Sorority Life Task Force” to review the Greek community and recommend steps to effect positive change in the community culture.
During the suspension, fraternity and sorority chapters will be unable to host or participate in social events and functions, including philanthropic events.
UTA has 31 sorority and fraternity organizations, according to the university website.
Limited activities, including chapter business meetings and community service projects, may be permitted with prior coordination with the Fraternity and Sorority Life Office or Student Affairs, UTA said in the statement.
“The University hopes this pause will be an opportunity to continue collaboration with current members and alumni to provide an opportunity to foster a commitment that is consistent with the University’s values,” the statement said.
UTA chief spokesman Joe Carpenter said there wasn’t a specific incident that triggered the decision.
“It wasn’t any one thing,” Carpenter said. “It was a series of concerns.”
No timeline was given for how long it will take for the task force to come up with recommendations but Carpenter said the goal is for the Greek organizations to eventually resume social activities.
Phil Rice, a former member of Delta Upsilon at UTA, said it is unfair of the university to punish all of Greek life.
“It’s hard to know what happened because they haven’t said anything,” Rice said. “But typically what happens is something goes awry and it’s an isolated group of students and they should deal with that instead of punishing all Greek students. My gut feel is that nine times out of 10, it’s an overreach on (the university’s) part.”
In March 2018, Sigma Phi Epsilon was suspended for the next two years for providing alcohol to minors and violating UTA’s alcohol policy and university rules.
UTA’s Phi Gamma Delta chapter was also suspended for hazing and providing access of alcohol to minors. Also known as FIJI, the UTA chapter is suspended from Jan. 19, 2018 to Jan. 19, 2021.
In April 2018, Phi Delta Theta at UTA was being investigated “for an unregistered event that includes the allegation of alcohol to minors.”
However, Rice, who was also a board member for Delta Upsilon and has been involved in the organization for 25 years, said fraternities also provide alcohol-related education to members through regional and national conventions. He added that Greek institutions are scrutinized more than many other social organizations.
“Being needlessly stricter on Greek life imposes something on Greek organizations that is not seen in any other organization on college campuses,” he said. “Whatever ‘culture’ they’re talking about, I have my doubts that is an accurate statement.”
UTA’s suspension includes the cancellation of Zeta Tau Alpha’s “Battle For The Crown” philanthropic event, which was scheduled for April 19. The event was a variety show benefiting breast cancer education, according to a post from the sorority on Instagram.
Nationally, fraternities have come under increasing scrutiny due to hazing and sexual assault cases. On Wednesday, four former Penn State University fraternity brothers were sentenced in connection with the death of a pledge during a hazing ritual.
In October 2018, a former Baylor University fraternity president accused of sexual assault was offered a plea deal in which he would serve no jail time, sparking declarations of outrage and protests in the community.
In 2017, Texas State University banned all Greek life activities after the alcohol-related death of a fraternity pledge. The university created a task force to review sororities and fraternities on campus, which were allowed to return after a four-month suspension, the University Star reported.