Lehigh's Theta Xi chapter was granted its appeal and the chapter returned to deferred dissolution until May 31, 2020. Alumni got involved and sent out a petition receiving over 100 signatures in favor of Theta Xi to appeal their punishment. (Vincent Liu/B&W Staff)

Theta Xi appeal granted with alumni support

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Lehigh’s Theta Xi chapter was initially dissolved following a series of charges levied against them effective March 29, 2019. But when the chapter appealed the decision claiming the sanctions were unduly harsh, the appeal was granted and the chapter returned to deferred dissolution until May 31, 2020.

“Initially, Theta Xi was dissolved for hazing, providing false information during the investigation, interfering by providing false information and violating the new member education plan,” said Holly Taylor, associate director of Student Affairs and witness at the Theta Xi hearing.

This wasn’t the first time Theta Xi has been charged with misconduct. According to Chris Mulvihill, the associate dean of students, disciplinary hearings go back two years with organizational conduct. Theta Xi was charged in October 2018 for an event that resulted in the hospitalization of a student, and they were also involved in the incident with text messaging that resulted in all 13 IFC chapters being charged with hazing.

Taylor explained that after receiving these sanctions, Theta Xi believed that its dissolution until May 30, 2021, was too harsh. The appeal grounded in harsh sanctions was granted, however the violation of disciplinary procedures was denied.

“A panel member from the committee who made the original decision and a panel member from the appeals committee (met) to discuss possible changes to the sanctions,” Mulvihill said. “They could’ve decided to keep the sanctions, but they decided to change them.”

According to Mulvihill, Theta Xi was still found responsible for all charges, however the appellate committee changed their sanctions to deferred dissolution through May 31, 2020, and then probation until May 31, 2022. This is the longest period of deferred dissolution allowed for those two sanctions. If they have a further violation, they will be dissolved from campus.

Taylor said during the time period of deferred dissolution and probation, Theta Xi has to be alcohol-free off and on campus, report all social events to her, and they have to work on their new member education plan.

During the appeal process, Theta Xi received a significant amount of support from their alumni. Mulvihill explained that during the appeal, Theta Xi received around 100 letters of support from Theta Xi alumni. He believed although these letters showed support, the decision was likely made before these letters were even addressed.

“Our alumni were extremely supportive during this process” said Harrison Swartzman, ’22, a Theta Xi member. “One alum drafted a letter and sent it to a bunch of alumni and got over 100 people to sign a petition against the removal of TX.”

When asked their opinions on the initial and amended sanctions, both Taylor and Mulvihill did not have an opinion on the matter. They emphasized their role in the process was only to ensure fairness and believed that this case followed just that.

Both Taylor and Mulvihill agree that the process worked. They said that generally, the committees do not make these decisions lightly.

“I don’t like when our chapters close; That doesn’t make me happy,” Mulvihill said.

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