Underground Greek life discouraged

Administration interviews underground Greek organizations and hope to stop activity

By Rose Eney

In the last few decades, the “underground Greek organization,” has emerged. The school administration and some students worry that these underground organizations cause problems and promote negative stereotypes about Greek life. Recently, the school has decided to take action in order to eliminate these illegal entities.This process of elimination has begun with an investigation into the actions of a Phi Alpha Mu. Future meetings will take place with the men of Chi Delta Upsilon, Gamma Beta Chi and Sigma Phi Epsilon.

Assistant Director of College Activities Amanda Rose said, “The whole basis for stopping the underground groups is to help the McDaniel Greek community.”

She explained that there are a lot of on-campus organizations that bring many good things to the school, and they are trying to improve that condition by eliminating the underground ones.

The first major action that the school has taken to begin eliminating these groups was the investigation into the actions of Phi Alpha Mu, a group of women who had joined a remnant of an old on-campus sorority.

Rose said that this investigation started in the fall of 2007 and was based on information that had come to the school that same semester. Reports of activities reminiscent of hazing were brought to light by McDaniel parents and teachers.

The way that the school went about this investigation was simple. Rose said they, meaning herself and Director of Campus Safety Mike Webster, gathered a list of the women known to be affiliated with Phi Alpha Mu. They then spoke with each one separately and asked them similar questions in order to collect information.

This information was used to determine whether or not the group was still functioning as an organization and bringing in new members. They also had follow-up interviews with a few members to clarify some details.

“There was no doubt in our minds that the group was still acting underground,” Rose said.

They chose to wait until two weeks into the spring semester of 2008 to call all the women in for a group meeting. The meeting was direct and was scheduled to give the former Phi Alpha Mu members the results of their investigation.

Webster, Rose, Vice President of Student Affairs Beth Gerl, and Director of College Activities Mitchell Alexander all met with the women to explain that they must stop functioning as an organization.

This means that they cannot meet as a group, participate in on-campus activities as a group, wear or display the letters or insignia of Phi Alpha Mu or do anything else that would continue the group’s existence.

Rose said that they fielded questions as well and that she “has no problem explaining and talking with students.”

She believes that everyone who joined Phi Alpha Mu after the group’s suspension in the spring of 2005 knew that they were not recognized for a reason, but did not realize that joining would impact the group’s ability to reform on campus.

One unnamed former member of Phi Alpha Mu said, “I felt exhausted by the investigation, mentally and physically.”

Another former member said that she felt completely attacked by the way that the school went about the investigations.

As for the other underground groups, they too will have meetings with school officials. The school knows of the existence of these groups because of how small McDaniel’s campus is and because “It’s obvious,” according to Rose.

She added that they are not 100 percent sure whether the three other underground groups are still taking members or not, but the fact that they exist is the issue.

The meetings with Chi Delta Upsilon and Gamma Beta Chi will be straightforward. The school will be telling their suspected members to cease and desist.

The case of Sigma Phi Epsilon will be different since many members have been given “alumni status” by their national organization. The real question for them will be about the members they may have who weren’t initiated at the time their charter was revoked.

There are three main goals that the school hopes to accomplish, which include getting rid of the unrecognized organizations, promoting the growth of the recognized and expanding the Greek life spectrum that exists.

They have several ways planned to enforce the banishment of the underground groups from now on. For the spring semester of 2008, former underground members who do not abide by the rules that the school has set for them will be charged with “failure to comply with a college official.”

This investigation, meetings, new policy and overall process has been for the betterment of McDaniel’s Greek community.

“We have a long history,” Rose said, “and we want to keep that.”

Rose Eney is a member of Phi Alpha Mu.