Fraternity Cover-Up
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Question:

So you’re an alumni fraternity advisor and your chapter is in trouble with the school and its neighbor because of a bottle-throwing incident. There is a fraternity cover-up. You, the advisor, know the identity of the “perp” but the chapter president is playing Sgt. Schulz (“I know nothing”) and is reluctant to do anything. What do you do? Turn in the perp? Contact the perp’s parents?


Answer:

This answer is easier than you think. Assuming that the in-house options of talking to current members and working the chapter judicial process have gone nowhere, then as an advisor you have a responsibility to ensure that the situation is taken care of.

Maybe this means you confront the individual in question yourself during the next formal meeting and allow the judicial process to proceed. Maybe this means you work with the college or university’s Greek Life Office to address the issue. Either way, as an advisor you have a duty to the chapter to not just support it and encourage success, but to remove hindrances to that success.

A fraternity cover-up or excusing bad behavior only makes matters worse. A bottle throwing incident one night can lead to more severe and egregious offenses later on if the impression given is that the advisor will sit by and not hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

For what it’s worth, look at the situation at Wabash with Delta Tau Delta. A court found that the family of a dead student can proceed with a lawsuit against the entire fraternity, not just the local chapter and its membership.

As an advisor, you have to think at all times about the broader consequences of the actions of individual members, So, if “Sgt. Schultz” chapter president wants to sit on his hands, you cannot.

This answer was written by Joe Russo, an alumni brother from Phi Delta Theta and frequent contributor for the thefraternityadvisor.com. If you are interested in writing for thefraternityadvisor.com – let us know (CLICK HERE)!






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One thought on “What Should a Fraternity Advisor do About a Cover-up?

  1. I would say be familiar with your national judicial process. For us, the governing board are the appeal level for the chapter judicial process. We can review and change if appropriate or rehear any case the chapter judicial process doesn’t get it right on, and if they refuse to take action then we can do it for them. Obviously this is something we rarely do, but the fact that we have the power to means the chapter takes their duty more seriously.

    I haven’t had a whole lot of trouble with chapters not telling me what’s going on or not being willing (with some encouragement sometimes) to do the right thing internally. It’s much more an issue of them wanting to cover up information from nationals or the school, cause that usually turns out bad and it’s too easy to get away with a lot of the time. How to deal with that appropriately is a different conversation, but I think for the most part they’ll do the right thing internally if they feel like they have to & have the confidence to follow through on it with your encouragement and support.

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