Delta Phi fraternity chapter house on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. (Sydney O'Tapi/B&W photo)

Delta Phi fraternity placed on deferred dissolution in response to ‘demeaning and degrading’ text message

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Delta Phi fraternity was placed on deferred dissolution and will not be able to take a new member class this semester, among other sanctions, after a disciplinary conference was held on Jan. 27 to address charges from the Fall 2014 semester, according to the Lehigh Greeks blog.

The fraternity was charged with several violations of the Code of Conduct, after an officer of the fraternity sent a “demeaning and degrading” text message to potential new members about members of a Lehigh sorority.

Delta Phi was found responsible for all charges, which include: Respect for Others B1 (Harassment), Respect for Community J1 (Encouraging Others) and Respect for Self A1 (Unauthorized Consumption, Distribution, or Possession).

The organization is placed on Disciplinary Deferred Dissolution through Dec. 31, 2015 and will subsequently be placed on Disciplinary Probation from Jan. 1 2016 through Dec. 31, 2016.

“Based on the egregious nature of this offense, and the fact that the same type of harassing text message was sent last year by the chapter, serious consideration was given to levying the sanction of dissolution,” the blog says.

Though members of the chapter apologized to the affected sorority and the Panhellenic president, the fraternity did not apologize to the 39 first-year students that received the text, nor did it work to educate its members about creating an inclusive and respectful campus climate, according to the blog.

In October 2013, members of Delta Phi sent a text message of similar vulgarity to potential new members. As a result, the chapter will not be permitted to recruit a new member class until the 2015-16 academic year.

“A contributing element to the fact that this was the second year such a harassing text message was sent by a sophomore recruitment chairperson is due to the fact that the sophomore who sent the text this year, was one of the recipients of such a social media message last year when he was a (first-year) student,” the blog says. “The cycle must be broken and the culture must be changed within this chapter.”

The fraternity will be able to participate in fall recruitment in 2015, as long as they fulfill all sanctions mandated by the Dean of Students and Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, the blog says.

Additionally, the chapter will be alcohol-free through Dec. 31, 2015.

The evening the text message was sent to the potential new members in November 2014, Delta Phi hosted a party at an off-campus residence. The blog reports that all witnesses admitted alcohol was available for underage students and that chapter dues were used to purchase the alcohol.

The rationale for this sanction includes the fact that the November 2014 incident was the third time in three semesters that the chapter created an “atmosphere where excessive drinking is likely to occur by underage students.”

The chapter is required to develop a long-term plan that addresses all issues of diversity and inclusion, improving campus culture related to fraternity behavior, and attitudes toward women in the community, the blog says. Delta Phi will be required to work on the plan – which will be made public – with university administration and faculty.

“Civility and respect are foundational values at Lehigh University,” the blog says. “Such misogynist words and messages have the impact to de-value women in our community and encourage men to believe they have a sense of entitlement to women as objects.”

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