Lehigh's chapter of Alpha Chi Omega lost university recognition on March 5. Sorority members allegedly engaged in a scavenger hunt that encouraged illegal activity. (Courtney Ferszt/B&W Staff)

Alpha Chi Omega loses university recognition


Lehigh’s chapter of Alpha Chi Omega sorority lost university recognition on March 5, according to the Lehigh Greeks blog run by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs.

The chapter had been on suspension since Dec. 12, 2017, following reports that members of the chapter had planned a scavenger hunt, or “road rally,” that involved the use of drugs and alcohol, sexual activity and other activities that violate university policy. AXO headquarters had also directed the chapter to cease and desist all activities, and visited campus to conduct its own investigation, which resulted in additional individual consequences as well as probationary terms for the entire chapter.

“This incident was a significant, reprehensible event that the entire chapter was aware of and leadership endorsed,” read the blog. “This event did not only take place this year, but there is credible information that this event has been going on for years. The panel is deeply concerned about the escalated nature of the content of this year’s list and we are unconvinced that this escalation wouldn’t continue.”

After Lehigh’s Title IX Coordinator conducted an investigation, the University Committee on Discipline found AXO responsible for six charges: respect for others D1 (hazing), respect for others (general), respect for community (general), respect for community J1 (encouraging others), respect for self A1 (unauthorized consumption, distribution, or possession of alcohol), and respect for community L1 (failure to report/being in the presence of a violation).

The sorority pled responsible for all of the charges, and the panel agreed the chapter’s actions constituted responsibility for the charges.

The willingness of members to participate in the activities does not preclude them from being considered hazing, according to the university’s code of conduct.

“AXO created a situation that occurred on and off campus involving morally questionable quests such as a scavenger hunt, treasure hunts, etc.,” read the blog. “The acts described may not have been required for affiliation into the organization, but are clearly considered a rite of passage and a consistent part of membership in AXO.”

The sorority will lose university recognition and access to its chapter house immediately upon the conclusion of the university’s disciplinary process.

The organization’s status is dissolved through May 31, 2020. Dissolution, according to the blog, is the loss of privilege to use the university’s name or represent it in any capacity. The group loses privileges to use university equipment or facilities. This length of time was chosen to ensure that nearly all members party to, and aware of, the event are no longer on campus when they recolonize.

Molly Bankuti, ’18, the president of Lehigh’s Panhellenic Council, said it is always difficult to watch a chapter leave the Greek community, but this loss is particularly difficult because the Panhellenic community has not lost a chapter in several years.

AXO is the first sorority to lose recognition since Delta Gamma in 2013.

“I think we knew whatever outcome came of the hearing, that there was going to be repair work to do in our community,” Bankuti said. “We knew we would need to take a hard look at ourselves to see where we are in terms of relationships with each other, relationships with women who were in AXO and with the Lehigh community generally.”

Bankuti said she wants students to use this as a learning experience.

“We certainly don’t want this to be, ‘OK this happened and now they’re gone, so let’s move on,'” Bankuti said. “We need to understand what the root of this problem was, why (AXO has) been removed and what we can do to live up to the expectations set by Lehigh and the expectations we set for ourselves.”

According to the blog, AXO’s conduct history did not convince the panel that the chapter could demonstrate care and concern for its members, particularly related to health and safety.
“This type of behavior is simply unacceptable considering the current climate on college campuses,” the blog read.
AXO retains the right to appeal the decision.
Bankuti said Lehigh has sent the Greek community a clear message.
“This shows that the university is going to keep holding us to a high standard,” Bankuti said. “It’s not that the university is trying to get rid of fraternities and sororities or that they are targeting specific groups. There is an expectation they have for us, and if we are not meeting that, they are not going to tolerate it.” 

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  1. When DG lost recognition the University quickly moved to invite other NPC groups to colonize at Lehigh-Kappa Delta joined the community the following Fall semester. Will this be a similar situation ?

      • Not true Gary — it is not a multiple year process and there are certainly no “scouts.” A campus opens for extension, notice is made via the monthly NPC Bulletin that solicits interested NPC groups not already represented on Lehigh’s campus. The (inter)national HQ submits a proposal, a short-list of finalists is selected for an in-person presentation and the selection is made by Lehigh reps (generally Panhell, existing groups, administrators, etc.) Can all happen before semester end if Lehigh wants to do it. And this is exactly what happened when DG was dissolved in 2013 (Spring 13); KD followed colonized shortly thereafter the following academic year.

  2. Since the LU administration (and administrations at many other limousine liberal private universities) wants to reduce organizations which it believes harms campuses by separating people by gender and affluence, IFC and Panhell, the recipient of the AXO house and support to grow more organizations will go to the Lehigh Multicultural Greek Council and other similar type groups. If the administration can’t end the Greek system as quickly as it would like, then in the interim it will support groups that are more diverse.

    Greek life at Lehigh and across the country is not going back to the way it was last year or five years ago…not in our lifetime. There is a slow drain running…one big incident and whoosh it is all gone.

    • I highly doubt that a cultural Greek organization, or even all of the cultural Greek organizations, will end up taking possession of the house formerly occupied by Alpha Chi Omega. At present, the Cultural Greek Council (the Multicultural Greek Council changed its name) is made up of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity Inc., Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc., Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity, Inc., Mu Sigma Upsilon Sorority, Inc. and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., and is considering adding Sigma Psi Zeta, a traditionally multicultural and Asian-interest sorority. While Lehigh’s student affairs staff is supporting cultural Greek organizations, the student body, by and large, hasn’t expressed a ton of interest. In the Fall of 2017, KAP had 4 members, LTA had 5 members, LSU had 1 member, MSU had 6 members, and SGR had 1 member, for a total of 17 CGC-affiliated members. Those numbers can’t come close to what would be necessary to fill AXO’s old house, which has a total occupancy of 40, even at the minimum 90% occupancy level.

      I think CGC organizations serve an important purpose. Their members unapologetically embrace their cultural heritages in an environment that many often feels does not embrace them. Many of these students also encounter social barriers to entry to IFC and Panhellenic organizations, and CGC organizations are their workaround. These fraternities and sororities are also a means to achieve a greater voice on issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion across campus because power is in numbers and a seat at the table, which these groups have. Maybe a place for CGC organizations on the Hill would be a meaningful step towards them being viewed as on equal footing with IFC and Panhellenic organizations. But something tells me…well…you know the rest…

    • It’s really sad what the administration has turned this place into. I am no longer proud to say I went there.

      • Embarrassed to Be Associated on

        I am proud to say I am going to grad school at a top state university system that has always been a brand name, likely always will be, and I really don’t see ever letting me down.

        Lehigh, on the other hand, is a disgrace. I really don’t advertise that I went there for undergrad.

  3. Problem of turning over the house is that the alums have donated to the house and now they probably will not get the old house when they recolonize. This applies to the fraternities

    • Lehigh owns the sorority and fraternity facilities; it is entirely the University’s call as to what organization or student group gets the same facility back if they are selected to return.

    • MOOSE1: Alumni donations aren’t an insurance policy for a Greek chapter nor should they be. Greek alumni, including AXO’s alumnae, have to take an active role in advising their chapters and ensuring that they are meeting standards of good conduct. Greek organizations are run by 19-22 year olds who are there to have a good time, and they should enjoy their college experience, but if you’re concerned about legacy of your fraternity or sorority, or for you donations for that matter, you cannot rely on them to always make the right decisions. If alumni want their chapters to be viable and successful, they have a responsibility as a lifetime member of that Greek organization to step up, provide guidance and oversight, and do more than complain when the fraternity or sorority gets in trouble for failing to meet community expectations.

  4. Just another reason why I will NEVER donate one dime to my alma mater. I would never send my kid there. This is COLLEGE, you are supposed to experience things. Really sad what the university has turned into.

  5. Pingback: Lehigh University’s Alpha Omega Chi Sorority Has Its Status Revoked After Allegations Of A “Reprehensible” Hazing Incident – Ketepaultals – Blog,News,Business,Health

  6. Fraternities and (to a certain extent) sororities are a blight on the college campus landscape. They are an anachronism of days past and should be relegated to the ash heap of history. That an organized group of (supposedly intelligent) men and women find it necessary to humiliate, abuse and, yes, even kill their fellow “brothers” and “sisters” defies comprehension. No amount of fundraising, charity events, dance-a-thons or other good works can make up for the atrocities committed for the privilege of wearing a few Greek letters on your clothing. Follow the lead of more enlightened institutions like Williams, Middlebury, Bowdoin and Colby and ban (not suspend, ban) them entirely.

    • Embarrassed to Be Associated on

      I wasn’t involved in Greek life at Lehigh but it seems like so many other universities are able to have frats and sororities but not be so trashy. I really think the school lends itself to this type of behavior.

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