When eager pledges arrive at the College of Charleston for recruitment season next fall, there will be four fewer fraternities on campus to rush.
In late April, the College quietly suspended the Eta Lambda chapter of Beta Theta Pi — the fourth C of C fraternity to shut down in the 2016-2017 school year in the wake of President Glenn McConnell's crackdown on risky, alcohol-fueled behavior at fraternity and sorority events.
The chapter's violations include hosting unregistered parties with alcohol, some of which was purchased using fraternity funds, marijuana use and hazing involving personal servitude and calisthenics, according to college officials. The chapter will be allowed to recolonize in the fall of 2021.
In late August, the college’s chapter of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity was ordered closed three days after a former 17-year-old freshman told police she was raped at an off-campus party. Two fraternity brothers were later arrested in connection with the young woman’s alleged assault.
In September, members of the college’s Kappa Alpha Order agreed to close their chapter just months after the 2014 chapter president and others were arrested for their alleged role in an off-campus drug ring. Then in October, the national board of directors of the Sigma Nu Fraternity voted to suspend its C of C chapter because members violated the chapter's probationary status.
Four other fraternities — Pi Kappa Alpha, Kappa Sigma, Pi Kappa Phi and Sigma Chi — and one sorority, Kappa Delta, were all sanctioned in the fall for hosting events where alcohol was provided, according to the college's Tucker Hipps Transparency Act disclosures.
Pi Kappa Alpha faced the most serious sanctions after new members were forced to serve as designated drivers for active members, buy them meals, clean their apartments, perform push-ups and planks, and hold pennies "against the wall with their nose while answering questions."
Pi Kappa Phi is again at the center of a C of C misconduct investigation after a 21-year-old sophomore alleged he was beaten by his fellow fraternity brothers at a house party in April.
Prompted by “a series of dangerous behaviors ... ranging from disruptive parties out in the community this month to recent medical transports related to extreme intoxication," McConnell instituted an alcohol ban at all fraternity and sorority events last fall.
According to Alicia Caudill, executive vice president for student affairs, the ban was lifted "after all the fraternities and sororities complied with the conditions imposed by President McConnell and the Division of Student Affairs."
“The alcohol ban sent a strong message to our fraternities and sororities that the College of Charleston does not tolerate dangerous or illegal behavior," she said in a statement to The Post and Courier. "The safety and well-being of our students is always our first concern.”
C of C isn't the only South Carolina college clamping down on Greek life. The University of South Carolina and Coastal Carolina University have each suspended three fraternities. Clemson University has suspended seven, including a sorority.
Besides suspension and loss of recognition, members of C of C's chapter of Beta Theta Pi were forced to write a letter to McConnell apologizing for their "willful noncompliance" with the president's mandate for alcohol-free events. They were also required to issue another letter to any future Beta Theta Pi colony, outlining their past mistakes.
"Our behaviors violated the College's Code of Conduct and included alcohol and drug abuse, discrimination, disrespect for authority, and hazing," the brothers wrote in their letter to McConnell. "We acknowledge that these actions were unacceptable, and not in line with Beta's core values, as well as the College's values."