Education

UTA suspends all social activities for sororities and fraternities

The University of Texas at Arlington has reached an important benchmark toward becoming one of Texas top research universities

The University of Texas at Arlington has reached an important benchmark toward becoming one of Texas top research universities. UTA was already identified as one of the emerging research universities.
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The University of Texas at Arlington has reached an important benchmark toward becoming one of Texas top research universities. UTA was already identified as one of the emerging 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.”

Last year, two UTA fraternity chapters were suspended and one was being investigated for alcohol-related infractions.

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.

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April 2nd, 2019 The Zeta Sigma Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha at UT Arlington was notified on April 1st, 2019 that it will not be able to host its philanthropy event, “Battle For The Crown” which was scheduled for April 19th, 2019. The cancellation is due to UT Arlington’s Division of Student Affairs’ implication of new rules for the remainder of the Spring 2019 semester for all of Fraternity & Sorority Life. These new rules include the cancellation of philanthropy events. As a member of UT Arlington’s Fraternity & Sorority Life, Zeta Tau Alpha will comply with these new rules that have been set forth. Therefore, it is with regret that Zeta Tau Alpha cancels this semester’s philanthropy event, “Battle For The Crown” as well as any fundraising events associated with the event. ​Zeta Tau Alpha would like to thank everyone who assisted in planning Battle For The Crown, including but not limited to University Center staff, those that purchased tickets, those who donated, those who sponsored, those who shared their talents by auditioning, as well as its own members. We are in the process of issuing refunds for audition qualification fees, ticket sales, t-shirt sales, donations, and sponsorships. Should you choose, the monetary donation or sponsorship you provided to the Zeta Sigma Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha may still be provided to the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation to help provide for scholarships, breast cancer awareness and education, and The Making Strides Walk Against Breast Cancer, please contact our Director of Philanthropy, Gaby Lerma. Gaby will also be able to answer any questions or concerns and can be reached by phone at: (469)-732-8860 or email at zta.zetasigma.philanthropy@gmail.com Thank You again for your willingness to support Zeta Tau Alpha and the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation.

A post shared by Zeta Tau Alpha (@utazta) on

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.

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Kaley Johnson is a breaking news and enterprise reporter. She majored in investigative reporting at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has a passion for bringing readers in-depth, complex stories that will impact their lives. Send your tips via email or Twitter.
Bill Hanna is an award-winning reporter who has covered just about every beat at the Star-Telegram. He currently covers Arlington but also writes about a variety of subjects including weather, wildlife, traffic and health.
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