Friday, March 21, 2008

Frats #12 and #13 Closed at Lehigh

Two Lehigh frats ordered closed
Separate underage drinking incidents led to the punishments for Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Alpha Mu.
By Veronica Torrejón Of The Morning Call

Lehigh University has ordered two fraternities closed for underage drinking that, in one case, left two students hospitalized with alcohol poisoning, officials said.
The most severe punishment, handed to Beta Theta Pi, by both its international headquarters and the university, means the fraternity can't return to Lehigh for 10 years.The sanction follows an incident at the fraternity house last month in which one student had a blood alcohol level the campus police chief said was the highest he has seen in a person who survived.

''We felt this was a very serious case,'' said John Smeaton, Lehigh's vice provost for student affairs . ''It was so severe it required that sanction.''
Sigma Alpha Mu has also been ordered shut down after a separate case of underage drinking on another day last month involving two freshmen, Smeaton said.
The hearings for both fraternities were held Monday.
Sigma Alpha Mu still has a chance of appealing the decision.
Beta Theta Pi's chances of an appeal are poor since it has also been ordered closed by the fraternity's headquarters in Ohio, said administrative secretary Jud Horras.
Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Alpha Mu would be the 12th and 13th Greek houses shut down since 1990, Smeaton said. Before Monday, the university had gone more than two years without having to close a fraternity, a sign that the school was reversing a reputation that had made it a mainstay of the Princeton Review's list of top party schools .
''What it says is that the effort we've been putting forth to strengthen Greek life was having a positive impact,'' Smeaton said. ''Unfortunately, these things happen.
''University officials have used hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants to curb binge drinking on campus and have revised campus alcohol policy to limit the amount of alcohol served at on-campus parties.
They've opened more substance-free housing, increased the number of nonalcoholic social activities and provided birthday lists to taverns and beer distributors to help prevent underage students from buying alcohol.
As recently as last fall, campus and city police teamed up to conduct sweeps on university parties, including one weekend last September when 26 students were arrested for underage drinking.
Fourteen students at Beta Theta Pi were charged in the latest incident, which started with shots of bourbon after dinner, according to court documents. Pledge members were later taken to the chapter room and given champagne to drink out of the ''Loving Cup,'' a fraternity ritual.
By about 10:30 p.m., campus police were called to the house because one pledge, 19-year-old Michael Esposito, was ''unresponsive.'' He was taken to St. Luke's Hospital-Fountain Hill with a blood alcohol level of 0.31 percent and placed on a respirator, according to court documents.
Police later learned a second pledge, Tim Malacrida, 19, had already been taken to the hospital by fraternity members. Malacrida had a blood alcohol level of 0.505 percent, more than six times the legal limit, according to court documents.
Both men were issued citations for underage drinking. One of the other men charged included chapter President Andrew Edmonds, 21, for allegedly providing alcohol to minors. Edmonds did not respond to messages left at his fraternity.
After 10 years, the fraternity can reapply for a house at Lehigh.

In the meantime, students living in the house will have to move at the end of the semester, Smeaton said. Until then, they must abide by a strict set of rules or leave the house.
The university hasn't decided what to do with the house.
''What you have here is a situation where some students made some really bad decisions,'' Smeaton said. ''I hope they take this opportunity to learn an important lesson.''Jud Horras, with the fraternity's international headquarters in Oxford, Ohio, met with members of the Lehigh chapter and said they expressed sincere remorse.
''The students I met with are not your typical animal-house fraternity type,'' he said. ''They wanted the chance to show they could change. Unfortunately, sometimes you don't get another chance.''