As the school year starts (and student newspapers get back to work), there have been updated reports on several stories of interest.
The Cornell Sun reports that the Sigma Pi chapter is no longer suspended, and on probation for the upcoming school year. A non-student guest had plead guilty to disorderly conduct earlier in the summer, and took full responsibility for the incident. The Cornell Fraternity and Sorority Review Board did a great job of recognizing the “shared responsibility” of the chapter to be accountable for behavior of its guests, and for addressing the “lack of cooperation” during the response to the incident. This is a good example of how self-governance should work.
Desdunes Civil Lawsuit Update
The Cornell Sun also has a story updating the next steps in the civil lawsuit filed by the family of Georges Desdunes. Based on the article it appears that this case will involve a great deal of legal sparring and delaying tactics before it ever reaches a courtroom (if it ever does). The initial battle seems to be over the location of the trial. Earlier this summer, three of the pledges who had been charged criminally were found not guilty of hazing related to Desdunes’ death. In the same trial, the NY Alpha Chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon was found guilty of hazing, although that is likely due to their lack of a defense at the trial.
The Lewiston Tribune reports that the University of Idaho was dismissed as a defendant in a civil trial related to a sorority woman’s fall from a window at a fraternity house in 2009. The lawsuit claimed that the university could be held liable for dangerous conditions at an off-campus fraternity since they registered, and provided oversight, for the chapter as a student organization. The case involves a 19-year-old woman who attended two different parties with her sorority sisters, and ended up falling from a bunk bed out a third floor window at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter house. Even with the dismissal of the University, the case continues against the fraternity, as well as the young woman’s sorority. If this actually reaches a courtroom and judicial decision, the most interesting part will be how her sorority is treated. The case claims that the sorority was negligent in not enforcing their own policy to deter underage drinking, and to have older members care for those who were not of age to drink.
The Gainesville Sun reports that the majority of hazing charges, that resulted from investigation in the Spring, have been resolved. Twenty-two members of the Alpha Phi Alpha and Kappa Alpha Psi chapters at UF were charged with physical hazing misdemeanors. In the cases that have been resolved, the individuals will avoid a criminal conviction by completing one year of probation, take a hazing class, pay court costs, and perform 75 hours of community service. Both chapters have been suspended by the University for at least three years. A handful of the cases are on-going.