Phi Delts successfully appeal some sanctions


Published: Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.

A University of Florida fraternity, which was accused of throwing an unauthorized party that left one underage student vomiting into a roadside trash can, has successfully appealed some sanctions that were levied against it in November.

UF's assistant vice president for student affairs will allow Phi Delta Theta to recruit new members this semester, overturning a punishment previously handed down by UF's Dean of Students office. Phi Delta Theta's appeal was based on a claim that insufficient evidence had been provided to demonstrate that any party ever took place.

The fraternity, commonly called Phi Delt, will still have restrictions placed on social events. Phi Delta Theta will be permitted to throw one social this semester with alcohol, but all other events must be dry, according to the sanctions. The fraternity must also complete other requirements, including the hosting of an alcohol risk management program and participation in community service.

The case against Phi Delta Theta began when UF Police encountered two intoxicated women, one of whom was vomiting, on campus Aug. 30. Both women said they had attended a party at Phi Delta Theta's house that night, according to the police report.

But UFPD officers never went to the fraternity house to confirm whether there had been a party, according to Matt Helgeson, the chapter's president. "No officers came to the house," he said. "We never even had a phone call that night."

The police report makes no mention of officers contacting or visiting the house, and Helgeson maintains the chapter "absolutely" didn't have a party that night.

The initial recommendation for punishment came from UF's Greek Judicial Board, a group made up of students in the Greek system. Under the board's rules, guilt is determined based on a "preponderance of evidence," a standard lower than "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Chris Loschiavo, UF's assistant dean of students and director of student judicial affairs, said he was convinced by the evidence that an unauthorized party took place. But he added that "we've definitely had cases that were much stronger."

The allegations against the fraternity came on the heels of another incident in which a fraternity member was accused of throwing a party at his residence where new recruits were drinking. Fraternities and sororities are not permitted to incorporate alcohol into recruitment events under Greek rules.

Jack Stripling can be reached at 352-374-5064 or Jack.Stripling@gvillesun.com.

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