Legal Update – Alpha Chi Rho Sues Syracuse University and Wins

by | Sep 6, 2021

By Jennifer Kreiman
Director of Chapter Services

In Fall 2020, a guest of Alpha Chi Rho (AXP) at Syracuse University engaged in alleged conduct that “startled or offended” a woman outside of the AXP house by his alleged attempt to look up her dress and comments made about her legs. It is also alleged that the guest used the “N word” a few times.  The incident was investigated by the Syracuse University (SU) Conduct Board, which found, in February 2021, that the chapter was responsible for the behavior of its guests, resulting in a one year suspension.

AXP appealed to the SU Appeals Board, which overturned the Conduct Board’s decision, based on the fact that they could not find a university policy that held an organization responsible for the actions of its guests.  Dolan Evanovich, now-former senior vice president for enrollment and the student experience at SU, rejected the SU Appeals Board’s decision.

AXP sued SU and Evanovich in June 2021, believing that factors outside of the situation impacted Evanovich’s overturning of the Appeals Board’s decision.  The suit was resolved in favor of AXP.

“There is no provision in the Fraternity and Sorority Affairs policy, or the Code of Student Conduct, that allows the University to punish fraternities for the independent, off-campus actions of former guests,” Judge Scott DelConte, wrote, ordering that Alpha Chi Rho must be reinstated immediately.  “Fraternities cannot police the statements of their former guests who leave campus, and it would be unreasonable to have, or apply, a policy that punishes fraternities, or other student social organizations, for conduct they cannot control.”

Judge DelConte also expressed his concern that SU did not allow AXP the chance to be represented by a lawyer at a hearing involving allegations of sexual harassment, whch violates the university’s own rules allowing an attorney advisor under those circumstances.

Theta Tau encourages all members to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct and Judicial Policies for their campus.  In any situation in which a member or chapter is facing discipline from a campus that could involve or implicate the chapter, immediately contact Central Office at  (512) 472-1904 or Central.Office@ThetaTau.org.

Sources:
https://fraternallaw.com/newsletter2/judge-blows-the-whistle-on-the-implicit-bias-against-greek-organizations-by-university-administration
https://www.syracuse.com/schools/2021/03/judge-rules-syracuse-university-frat-accused-of-racism-did-nothing-wrong-trashes-sus-suspension.html