Saturday, January 20, 2007

ATO at U M-Columbia Appeals Sanctions

Fraternity appeals sanction
By Jewels Phraner, Associate Editor.

Months after members of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity caused more than $10,000 worth of damage to the Lakeside Resort in the Lake of the Ozarks, the case is still open.
Most recently, Alpha Tau Omega has appealed one of the nine sanctions that the Office of Greek Life has put on the fraternity.

“I want to make it very clear that we know certain repercussions were warranted,” Alpha Tau Omega President Eric Hobbs said. “We do recognize the severity of the issue and the Office of Greek Life has done an excellent job with just consequences.”

On the weekend of Nov. 12, 2006, furniture and dishes were thrown into the lake and significant damage was done to a golf cart when a fraternity member attempted to drive it over the lake retaining wall, Lakeside Resort owner Jake Drake said in a previous interview with the Columbia Missourian.

Due to the incident, Greek Life ordered nine sanctions on the fraternity.

“Despite wanting to avoid appealing, Alpha Tau Omega felt like they had to appeal one of the sanctions,” Hobbs said.

One sanction deemed that the fraternity could not let members live in the fraternity house until fall 2008. This would result in a loss of about $100,000 for the fraternity. Hobbs said the fraternity could not afford this loss.

The appeal process makes it possible for Greek Life to recommend a change to the sanctions it originally imposed, which opens up the possibility of the university revoking their sponsorship of the fraternity. Hobbs said Alpha Tau Omega realizes this is a risk.

“I’d be very surprised if the committee would make the recommendation for this recommendation,” Interfraternity Council spokesman Jeff Beeson said, "ATO has been one of our leading fraternities for philanthropies, raising thousands of dollars through Karnibali and other programs, which benefiting multiple charity organizations.”

Immediately after the weekend of Nov. 12, the fraternity created five self-imposed sanctions including putting themselves on a semester of social probation, enacting a membership review which could result in the expulsion of members believed to be partly responsible for the incident and community service to be performed in Camden County where the incident occurred. Alpha Tau Omega elected a new executive council shortly after the incident.

Greek Life affirmed each of these sanctions. It also placed the fraternity on disciplinary probation for three semesters and has prohibited them from participating in Greek Week events. Greek Life has ordered that all of the fraternity’s social events must be held in Columbia and be alcohol-free. Alpha Tau Omega is required to meet with Greek Life monthly and participate in leadership training.

The fraternity is held accountable for the debt to Lakeview Resort, which will be paid in full by the end of this month.

In the months after the incident, Alpha Tau Omega has experienced significant change, Hobbs said.

“The fraternity was going through some hard times with resistance to change,” he said. “There was a break in the brotherhood and we hit rock bottom with this incident. There has been a change in the atmosphere of the fraternity, and we believe that most of the sanctions are proactive and aimed to help us overcome obstacles.”