After year-long appeals process, four previously-suspended organizations return to campus

Following their suspension last spring and a year-long reinstatement process, Gamma Chi Delta, SPURS Sorority, Chi Delta Tau and the Bengal Lancers regained active standing this week but remain on probation for the next three years.

The Gammas and Delts were reinstated on Sunday, March 31, followed by the SPURS and Lancers on Wednesday, April 3.

The Process

The reinstatement process, which began in May of last year, and the reinstatement plans, which were submitted in January, were overseen and evaluated by members of Campus and Community Involvement and the administration, and required the active participation of students and alumni.

At the beginning of the reinstatement process, CCI issued a template to guide the groups’ individual plans, outlining the four pillars of fraternity and sorority life: leadership, camaraderie, service and scholarship. From there, each group authored a plan unique to their organization.

The plans were up to 90 pages in length, and included listed activities, the orientation calendar for each organization, narratives about changes that the groups plan to implement and goals for the next one to 10 years.

“Our job was to go through and show them how we are going to change our culture, our internal workings and put some stuff in there that they could see as actual change,” said Erik Long-Goheen, junior and Delt student liaison. “When they felt comfortable with our progress, they would let us back on campus, which just happened Sunday night.”

Luke Shover, a sophomore member of the Lancers, said that the reinstatement process provided the organization with insight into the inner workings of the administration but was, at times, trying.

“Quite frankly the first word that comes to mind is frustrating,” Shover said via email Thursday. “The irony that existed was infuriating, the CCI office (Dr. Michael Fischer, Briana McGlamory, Jamie Thomspon) insisted on transparency throughout the process yet it became clear as the ordeal continued that the decision to suspend our organization from campus was not what it originally seemed.”

“In our last meeting, Briana McGlamory was, in fact, unable to tell us the charges that resulted in our suspension,” Shover said. “In my opinion this is an accurate reflection of the reinstatement process as a whole: a lot of the “˜powers that are’ demanding change from us as a punishment for an unclear action.”

Despite Shover’s critique, he recognizes the impact the process had on the Lancer’s constitution. Still questions remain.

“Our constitution has been modified and adapted to better fit the mold that CCI mandated we conform to if we wanted to once again be recognized as an organization,” Shover said. “On the one hand the school has made it clear that they would like to see changes and they have made those changes clear. I am not sure if these are all that the school wants though or if they are going to continue to hold this stick over our head, retaining the ability to mandate how we run our organization until we are removed from probation.”

According to Jamie Thompson, director of CCI, the organizations were not asked to specifically address the events of last spring, with the focus being on creating a positive vision for the future.

“One of the common elements I can say all the plans have right now is that they all have some sort of goal setting,” Thompson said. “There are some pretty lofty ideas and thoughts in the plans, all of which can’t happen like [immediately], upon reinstatement, so part of the reinstatement process was walking them through what they could realistically achieve in the next year, next two years, things like that.”

According to Thompson, certain organizations focused specifically on enhancing their philanthropy within the San Antonio and Trinity communities while others looked into revising the internal structure of their organization through a “checks and balances”  system for officers.

Other organizations, such as the SPURS, focused more on revising their orientation process.

“We had to change just a few things [involving the orientation calendar],” said Samantha Couch, junior and SPURS student liaison. “A lot of it was involving our alumni, having them at orientation events and changing the overall tone of our orientation process. That was one of the biggest things that CCI wanted to see corrected, so we definitely have that under control now.”

According to Thompson, alumni, which have been required to be at nearly all events for the four organizations during reinstatement, have been a common theme of each group’s reinstatement.

“I think what makes these four organizations stronger, though, certainly because of this [reinstatement process], is the alumni involvement,” Thompson said. “There is a whole lot of value and experience that comes from someone who might be a mother or a father, an aunt or an uncle, that can speak to these students and be a sounding board throughout an organization’s evolution, and certainly throughout the orientation period, specifically since we talk about hazing and education and things like that.”

Along with aiding in communication between organizations and the administration, alumni also played a role in evaluating their respective fraternity or sorority during the drafting and revision of the reinstatement plans.

“The Alumni’s contribution was to evaluate our level of involvement with the Active Members since graduation,” said Amy Bethea White, president of the Gamma Chi Delta Alumnae Association Board, via email on April 2. “As a group, we recognized that a higher level of involvement and better communication between past and present Gammas was needed. We worked collaboratively with the Gammas to institute a more robust level of Alumni presence in the years to come, to be sustained beyond the suspension period.”

The Future

Although all four organizations are actively reinstated, the three-year probation period does carry certain stipulations.

“If any Greek organization were to do something that was against the rules, more than likely, there would be a warning, some type of retribution and a judicial/educational learning experience,” said Briana McGlamory, coordinator for fraternity and sorority life. “However, if one of [the four sanctioned organizations] were to do that same thing, they would already have that warning status and be onto the likely charter revocation.”

The probationary period, which is similar in nature for all four sororities and fraternities, also affects the groups’ orientation schedules for the next three years.

“During the first year of probation, our orientation will be two weeks and an alumna must be present at all orientation events, and we cannot have any overnight activities permitted in the first year,” Couch said. “In the second year of probation, our orientation is extended to three weeks, and then in year three our orientation period “˜will conform to the community-watch standard.'”

According to Long-Goheen, the Delts’ president will report to their alumni advisor whenever major decisions are made within the fraternity.

Time allowing, the groups may have formals and host other events before the end of the academic year. Currently, each organization is coordinating elections in order to establish formal leadership within their fraternity or sorority and send officers to the campus-wide organization training on April 21. However, the organizations are not required to complete standards for the spring semester.

¨They will not be expected to turn in a standards book by the end of the month. Greek council standards are due April 25 or 26,” McGlamory said. “I will not expect these organizations to do that, but they will be due next semester for the fall. That is only because they haven’t been active for this semester to complete the standards.”

According to Long-Goheen, they are excited about returning to the Trinity sorority and fraternity community that they have been a part of for more than 45 years. However, others, such as Shover, wonder if these events have permanently changed how the community views the sanctioned greek organizations.

“What is interesting is that actives within the club have been asked to help make B/L a face of leadership on campus and yet the school appears to have condoned the slandering of our name with sanctions that to this day, over a year later, are still not clear nor public knowledge,” Shover said. “To be honest I am not sure what our place in the Greek community is right now.”

The Big Picture

The suspension of these four fraternities and sororities last spring has also led to the drafting of a strategic plan for fraternity and sorority life at Trinity.

According to Michael Fischer, vice president for faculty and student affairs, the document, which is approximately three to four pages, is being referred to as a “blueprint” for Greek life.

“The blueprint has developed from a group of national alumni board folks, board of trustees and what at one time was a small group of fraternity and sorority alumni, and spawned because of the events of last spring to really look at the long-term success of the fraternity and sorority community on Trinity’s campus,” Thompson said. “The blueprint addresses sustainable success for the organizations, how they can be contributing organizations to the campus and San Antonio communities.”

According to Thompson, the blueprint will eventually result in multiple implementation committees ““ consisting of students, alumni, administration and staff ““ that will review and dissect the different sections of the plan in order to effectively apply them to the Greek community on campus.

“The board of trustees is putting the finishing touches on this blueprint, and it will be ready in a couple of weeks,” Fischer said. “They are actually trying to approve it before May, while the students are here…It’s to reaffirm the value of these organizations and to strengthen them for the future.”