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Theta Chi international headquarters issues statement after suspension of Radford U chapter

Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 4:34 PM EDT
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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - UPDATE: The Theta Chi fraternity’s international headquarters has released a statement on the suspension at Radford University:

“Today, Theta Chi Fraternity International Headquarters was notified that the Iota Zeta Chapter and several of its members have been suspended by Radford University. Theta Chi staff members have been in contact with university administrators and are investigating the allegations. Upon completion of the investigation, the Fraternity will respond appropriately.

“Student health and safety are essential to Theta Chi’s mission. The Fraternity expects chapters to follow all applicable laws and regulations.”

EARLIER: Radford University has suspended Theta Chi Fraternity’s Iota Zeta Chapter and eight members, all Radford students.

The university said the fraternity has 18 members.

The interim suspensions are based on what the university says are COVID-19-related violations, including “endangering conduct by hosting off-campus gatherings.”

University officials are disappointed in these students who they say hosted off-campus gatherings.

“This is really troubling because we’ve made it really clear from the onset that we had expectations and we were going to hold individuals accountable,” said University Spokesperson Caitlyn Scaggs. “This is us doing exactly that.”

Students are also disappointed in their peers for not adhering to public health guidelines.

“Having such huge gatherings like that off campus, it’s stupid and it’s ridiculous,” said sophomore Jordan Storberg.

Storberg and classmates Abbi Morin and Jessica Britton all decided to take their courses online this semester and stay home. This is one of the reasons they chose to do so.

“I have a close friend who is in a fraternity and he got coronavirus the first week he got back to school and so did his entire house,” Morin said. “It’s beyond frustrating and extremely disheartening to see all of these kids being so selfish.”

“It’s confusing to me why you would want to negatively as an organization as part of the university,” Britton said.

These students and Scaggs agreed these suspensions are not an accurate representation of the majority of students.

“Students who are making the right choices should be proud of themselves and should continue to do so,” Scaggs said. “Anyone who is not making wise choices or who is engaging in dangerous behaviors, now’s the time to stop. We are serious that we are holding individuals accountable both on and off campus.”

Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D. said, “As a University, we have been very clear with individual students and all organizations that we have a no tolerance policy for the blatant disregard of public health guidelines and University expectations, as well as the safety and well-being of our broader community. This fraternity has admitted to hosting gatherings, but is also suspected of ridiculing those who follow public health guidance, such as wearing face coverings, and misleading Radford University and public health officials. It has been reported that the local organization is allegedly advising its members and those attending their gatherings to not seek testing or to only do so outside of the local area in an effort to hide potential positive cases. This behavior is not reflective of our Highlander values and not consistent with the caring and responsible nature of the Radford family.”

Of 1,705 students tested since classes began for the current semester, there is a 5.75 percent positivity rate, meaning about 98 students have tested positive for COVID-19.

Vice President for Student Affairs Susan P. Trageser, Ed.D. said, “There is a direct link between the recent increase in confirmed cases and off-campus gatherings, which clearly demonstrates the dangerous nature and potential consequence for this type of irresponsible activity. This reckless behavior is especially troubling given prior action by Radford University’s Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Council, and National Pan-Hellenic Executive Boards to declare their unified commitment for operating in a safe and responsible manner. I am confident that the careless actions of Theta Chi Fraternity – Iota Zeta Chapter are not the norm across our Greek Life organizations, which have pledged to uphold their prior commitment.”

With the suspension, the chapter has to cease all operations until further notice.

It will be given a conduct conference or hearing as soon as possible, according to the university. The individual students will also have due process through the Office of Student Standards and Conduct.

The university has notified the national office about the specific actions of the local chapter and members. There could be more discipline and/or sanctions on the national level.

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