Monday, June 28, 2010

Missouri Frat Surrenders Its Charter

Alpha Kappa Lambda leaves MU
Alcohol and fire code violations in May resulted in the loss of the fraternity's charter
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By Jimmy Hibsh

As the Interfraternity Council’s formal recruitment takes place this weekend on campus, prospective brothers will have one less choice of fraternity to enter as a result of the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity’s surrender of its charter on May 10.

In early February, the fraternity was suspended by the university following an appeal of a decision recommended by the Greek Judicial Board to the Student Organizations Governments and Activities Board, according to a press release issued by the Office of Greek Life.

But, despite the fraternity’s loss of university recognition, the Alpha Kappa Lambda national fraternity chose to continue to support all actions of the chapter. The release said this support was maintained until May, when a May 8 party at the chapter house brought about multiple city citations resulting from student, Columbia Police Department, Columbia Fire Department and Alpha Kappa Lambda headquarters staff reports. The citations ranged from fire code violations to alcohol violations, including one case of alcohol poisoning.

Bryant Gatrell, national vice president for Alpha Kappa Lambda and founding father of the MU chapter, said the decision to revoke a chapter’s charter is difficult, but necessary. Although he did not participate in the decision to revoke the chapter’s charter because of his conflict of interest, he acknowledged the inevitability of the situation.

“The situation with my chapter was not a one time thing,” Gatrell said. “It was something that was addressed over time, but the final straw that broke the camel’s back was when they had a big blow out party at the end of the year when they thought they were going to lose the house.”

Columbia Police Department spokeswoman Jessie Haden said the police department is accustomed to responding to on-campus parties, but she noted complaint calls are most frequent in the fall and spring, and at fraternities rather than sororities. Every time an on-campus peace disturbance call is received, MU is notified.

“What we do whenever we have a call that is close by campus is make sure that we communicate with the university, the university police department, Office of Greek Life or any other organizations who might be involved,” Haden said. “We’re very good at always doing that.”

On May 10, the national office informed the Alpha Kappa Lambda chapter that they had begun the process of withdrawing their charter, notifying them that they had the opportunity to collect an evidence packet to create an argument that could potentially keep the chapter open, the release stated.

Despite the opportunity to debate to keep their chapter alive, the students chose to surrender their charter that same day.

“The facts shed such a bad light on all that were involved that there wasn’t really much more to say or do once the party happened,” Gatrell said. “The guys went into that weekend with their eyes wide open. Maybe they didn’t completely understand that it meant that there wasn’t going to be a chapter anymore, but I think they knew that what they were going to undertake that weekend was not bright and was definitely not going to lead to good things.”

As founding father of the MU chapter, Gatrell said he was disheartened to see his former fraternity leave the university.

“When we started there were 34 fraternities already on campus, and when you’re the new guy on the block you have to earn your respect,” Gatrell said. “Just to realize that all of the hard work that had gone into the fraternity the last 20 years was just kind of thrown away by a handful of individuals because of their poor decisions is really disappointing and frustrating. It makes you a little mad that you have folks who don’t care enough about the organization to take the steps to save it.”

IFC President Brandon Green said he was also disappointed to see the chapter leave campus, but he remained positive about the situation.

“It’s always sad to see a chapter have to leave our campus, but we’re still a thriving Greek community,” Green said. “We have 27 other chapters, many of which are in a great, great strong position.”

Like Green, Gatrell was able to remain optimistic.

“The good news is that we have had a good success rate at bringing chapters back after a period of time,” Gatrell said. “I certainly hope that happens at Mizzou. I’m hoping for brighter days.”

According to a fall 2009 report by the Greek Judicial Board, the 2012 spring semester will be the soonest time Gatrell’s wish could be answered.

©2010 The Maneater Student Newspaper