For an individual student who has violated college policy, the guidelines for what to expect are clearly outlined in the student handbook. However, when investigations into Greek organizations occur, this is not the case.
The investigation process can begin in a number of different ways. Associate Dean of Student Affairs Elizabeth Towle says, “The Hazing Hotline tends to be the most common way an investigation begins because they don’t need to say who they are when they leave a message. At the same time, when I hear anything that might be potentially happening in a group we follow up on that to determine.”
Towle responds that what happens to a group while under investigation “depends based on the circumstances and from the information I receive. We want to act to prevent any potential risk to personal safety.”
“When a group is being investigated, all chapter activities are suspended until the outcome of the investigation. This means there is to be no chapter meetings, activities, socials, community service projects or new member activities. The group’s involvement in campus activities is also on-hold until the outcome is known. This is done to allow time for information to be gathered to determine the validity of the reported information. This way if there are valid concerns the situation can be solved without any further incident,” says Amanda Rose, the current Coordinator of Student Life at San Jacinto College in Houston, Texas, the Assistant Director of College Activities at McDaniel from December of 2003 to August 2009, and a member of Phi Mu.
Towle says that for a group that is found responsible, “There’s a whole continuum from some very basic educational sanctions to help the group recognize and understand where they might have gone wrong to prevent it in the future up to ‘for these set of reason we can no longer recognize you.’”
Towle says that the time period involved in an investigation “depends. It truly varies based on the situation.”
Rose says that it generally takes two to three days to schedule individual meetings with members of the group and continues, “I tried to get those meetings completed in 2 days. It all depended on the students’ schedules… Once we came to a decision I would meet with the chapter president and give them a letter with the decision and any sanctions given. How long should a group expect to wait to hear a decision? From start to finish I would say 7- 10 business days… but there could always be things that could change that.”
Rose says, “When I worked at McDaniel, there was not a written investigation policy” and adds that “I left in August 2009, so I am not sure if any policies changed since then.”
When asked if the guidelines for the process of investigation are written down, Towle responds, “No. There is for individuals and that’s in the agenda book.”
The process for individual students is easily accessible for anyone interested in looking it up. The 2009-2010 student handbook says that “the following summary of the most common processes used to address matters of student misconduct are offered so that the College community may become familiar with the process in general,” (67).
In response to being asked how a group should know what to expect if under investigation, Dean Towle says “typically what happens in the case of an individual or a group once I get information, the first person I call in is the president or the individual student and say based on that information this is how the college is proceeding.”
Towle was asked: “Do you think there should be written guidelines to the investigation process written down and available to students involved in Greek life? How things proceed with individuals is in the agenda book, but is there anything available for sororities or fraternities to refer to while under investigation?”
She responds, «While there are no procedures currently included in the Handbook, once a complaint is received regarding an organization, the first person contacted typically is the president or head of the group to inform him/her of the concerns and explain how the College will gather the necessary information about the complaint.”
In regards to the investigation process, as Towle says “Our administrative process is in place to maintain the health and safety of the community.”