The university is holistically reviewing Greek life on campus after multiple sexual assault, hazing and alcohol abuse cases were reported in the last three years.
President Vistasp Karbhari said in a statement to The Shorthorn he admires the work done by Greek organizations related to philanthropy and community service but is “saddened by the cases of hazing, sexual assault, extreme intoxication, and other inappropriate behaviors connected to some members of our Greek Community.”
A UTA student in a Greek organization also recently required medical treatment after an alcohol violation but is no longer in the hospital, Karbhari said.
In the next week, a task force will be formed to make recommendations through the summer, he said. He hopes to have the suspension lifted by the fall semester.
“The intent is not to make this go on forever,” he said. “The intent is to do a holistic review and come back with a set of guidelines and recommendations that can truly strengthen Greek life.”
The task force will include student presidents, alumni representatives and advisers from all four Fraternity and Sorority Life governing councils, he said.
Staff members from Student Affairs, Fraternity and Sorority Life and the UTA Police Department will also be on the task force.
Rather than suspending certain organizations from campus, Karbhari said putting a pause on Greek life was the appropriate thing to do.
“Let’s reset where we are and try to define the good parts of Greek life and how we strengthen it,” he said. “We haven’t hit a stop; it’s a pause.”
The university decided to suspend the social activities of all four governing councils rather than reprimand individual organizations because there have been violation reports from all four councils on campus.
In the past two years, three chapters were suspended from the university and one was put on interim suspension, UTA chief spokesperson Joe Carpenter said on Thursday.
Carpenter also said the university recently discovered possible Title IX violations.
Phi Gamma Delta and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternities and Delta Sigma Theta sorority were suspended in the last two years, according to documents obtained by The Shorthorn through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The violations included hazing, unauthorized use of alcohol and violation of university rules, Carpenter said.
Phi Gamma Delta fraternity was suspended from the university in January 2018 for hazing and providing access to minors, and is eligible to return January 2021, according to the records.
Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity was suspended March 2018 for violating university rules, providing access to minors and violating an alcohol policy, and is eligible to return March 2020, according to a previous Shorthorn article.
Delta Sigma Theta sorority was originally suspended from the university from August 2018 to August 2019 but appealed the decision, according to the records. The new sanctions ended the sorority’s suspension January 2019, with a social probation lasting until Aug. 31.
Alumna Heidi Anderson said she believes a task force would be ineffective because the problem lies not just at UTA but with Greek life on a national scale.
“The issue with these organizations is just systemic — it’s how they’re designed,” she said. “It would be naive to focus on individual organizations or individuals that have been in fraternities.”
Anderson said it’s not about an individual but about the culture the organizations have created.
“There’s no one organization at UTA that I think about and I go ‘That place needs to be shut down,’” she said. “Its entire concept is antiquated.”
Phil Rice, Delta Upsilon fraternity and UTA alumnus, said he wants students to be safe, but it’s unfair the whole Greek community was punished for the actions of others.
“It’s almost like we’re being asked to be the police, sometimes, of the whole Greek system,” Rice said. “We’re sort of guilty by association.”
Rice said being a fraternity member enhanced his university experience and that he made lifelong friends and business connections through the organization.
“[The suspension] hurts the opportunity for other kids to have that same experience, to have those types of experiences that I had,” he said. “That’s the sad part.”
Rice said his fraternity’s 50th anniversary is in May, but he’s unsure if active members will be able to attend because of the social suspension.