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 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.”