Theta Chi leaders move toward reform after cease-and-desist order ends

The cease-and-desist order was lifted for Theta Chi on Oct. 7, according to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life (OFSL) website. Theta Chi was found guilty of hazing and sexual harassment, and as a result, the fraternity will be on disciplinary probation until October 2019; however, the fraternity will be able to recruit new members in spring 2018, provided new members are initiated immediately upon being offered a bid.

Both Kevin Dunn, Theta Chi’s vice president of health and safety, and Alexander Osborne, the interim president of Theta Chi, said that the investigation went smoothly not only in terms of the university’s interactions with the fraternity, but also in terms of fraternity-wide communication. Osborne said that before he took over as president, fraternity leaders gave consistent updates on the investigation.

Dunn added that the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs and the OFSL dealt fairly with Theta Chi in the investigation proceedings.

“Given the resources the administration had, they did the best they could and I don’t hold it against them, because from what I know, I don’t think they’ve ever had a situation where they’re dealing with investigations … with the majority of Greek life all at once,” Dunn, a junior, said. 

According to Osborne, a senior, discussions about the direction of the organization have been put on overdrive since the cease-and-desist order ended on Oct. 7. He stressed the motto “An Assisting Hand” calls upon brothers to help one another.

“Our motto is ‘An Assisting Hand.’ It’s in our creed. It’s our mission statement,” Osborne said. “With the hazing allegations, we realized that these things did not fall within the motto.”

Osborne said that Theta Chi is entirely revamping its new member process. Dunn said that he had been working with the New Member Educator, Trevor DiTrani, to draft an entirely new process that will be subject to review by Theta Chi brothers, the OFSL, the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs and the national Theta Chi organization.

The expectation is that this reformed new member process will be used indefinitely from recruitment in spring 2018 onward, Osborne said.

Dunn said that last semester, since the fraternity could not host events, it focused more on introspection and contemplating the changes it would implement once its cease-and-desist order ended.

“I was trying to make sure everyone was part of that conversation and that it wasn’t just the chapter leadership,” Dunn said.

Luke Murphy, president of the Interfraternity Council (IFC), said the IFC was committed to assisting Theta Chi in its efforts to reform.

“We will work with the OFSL to offer all available resources to assist Theta Chi in reforming their chapter and faithfully instituting their administrative resolution,” Murphy, a senior, told the Daily in an email.

One of the organization’s administration-imposed demands after the conclusion of their investigation is to hold required bystander intervention and hazing prevention trainings for all members.

Dunn said that this semester, he hopes to organize trainings on mental health and wellness, suicide prevention and hazing prevention. He will also organize sexual misconduct trainings with the Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) and bystander intervention trainings with Alexandra Donovan, the OEO’s sexual misconduct prevention specialist.

By exploring these issues around health and safety, Dunn hopes to reform the fraternity. He also hopes to influence other organizations on campus, helping to ensure safety in the contexts of larger campus events like Winter Ball and Spring Fling.

Tufts housed six transfers in the Theta Chi house this semester because the fraternity did not recruit new members last semester and could not fill the house, Osborne said. He stressed that this was completely separate from the investigation, and that when Theta Chi has enough new members to fill the house in the future, brothers will live there.

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