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Expelled Student Stays In House Associated With Off-Campus Fraternity

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(Ethan Corey)– On January 16, students at the College received an email from Dean of Students Jim Larimore and new Title IX Coordinator Laurie Frankl informing them that in December, for the first time in nearly two decades, a student had been expelled from the College for violating the College’s Sexual Misconduct Policy by committing sexual assault. Not included in the email, however, was the news that after being required to leave campus the expelled student had resided in a house on South Prospect Street (directly across from Hitchcock Dormitory) leased by four members of the off-campus fraternity known as Chi Psi at Amherst, of which he was a member.

In a meeting with the leadership of Chi Psi at Amherst and a female friend of the student who is not affiliated with the fraternity, I learned that after receiving the Hearing Board’s initial decision in early December, the student was required to leave campus immediately, with less than an hour to pack. After consulting with the fraternity members who lease the house, the student’s friend, who was with him when he received notice of the decision, took him to stay at the house, commonly known as “the Lodge,” while he went through the appeals process. Although the student continued to reside in the house after his appeal was denied, the students who allowed him to stay said that the arrangement was always meant to be a temporary “waystation” while he found another place to go permanently. They claimed that because of his particular circumstances, staying with family was not an option, and the student had no other place to go.

“That was the best option at the time; there was nothing else. What else was he going to do? He didn’t have money to stay in a hotel—he couldn’t just stay in his car until his money ran out,” the student’s friend said.

However, they declined to tell me how long the student was in the house, although they assured me that he was not there while classes were in session and has since left the area.

Leaders of Chi Psi at Amherst rejected the idea that this arrangement had anything to do with the fraternity, aside from the fact that it involved fraternity members. A fraternity officer who resides in the house said that the decision to allow the student to stay in the Lodge was solely the purview of the four fraternity members who lived in the house and paid the lease. They also said that most Chi Psi members did not even know about the expulsion. Another fraternity officer, who lives on campus, said that he had expressed concern about the student staying in the Lodge, but added that because he did not pay the lease, he had no say in the final decision.

According to the Chi Psi constitution and bylaws, each Alpha, or local chapter of the fraternity, is affiliated with a Lodge owned by a specially created alumni corporation that holds the title for the property, pays taxes, collects rent, and performs other duties necessary for the proper maintenance of the Lodge. The bylaws state that an “alumnus” — which the student became after his expulsion — may not reside in the Lodge or make social visits to the premises. However, leaders of Chi Psi at Amherst said that because the College does not recognize the fraternity the Amherst chapter of the fraternity is exempt from some of the requirement typically expected of Chi Psi Alphas. No alumni corporation owns the house leased by the Chi Psi members; instead, the lease is handed down each year within the fraternity, and the fraternity members who reside in the house do not receive any compensation for allowing the Amherst Alpha to use the house for fraternity activities.

Although the student has since moved out of the Lodge, several student-activists and advocates for sexual respect say that his proximity to campus undermined the purpose of the expulsion and posed a potential threat to the student he assaulted. Sonum Dixit ’13, one of the founders of It Happens Here, argued that the expulsion was “rendered meaningless,” because the College inability to regulate fraternities.

“While I’m glad the College expelled the student, the issue of expulsion is tricky because if a school expels a rapist, the rapist will find their way elsewhere and the cycle is never broken,” Dixit said.

Dana Bolger ’14E, another founder of It Happens Here who wrote a widely-read article about the fraternities and sexual respect last year, also expressed concern over the student’s proximity to campus and its effects on the victim’s healing process.

“Victims file complaints because they want to be safe at school and they want to protect others from having to go through what they suffered. If the perpetrator remains effectively on campus — including at a frat house 100 feet away — they may end up bumping into him in town or elsewhere. That can actually be really terrifying for a victim of sexual assault, exacerbating PTSD symptoms and stalling the healing process. On top of that, I imagine it’s infuriating to go through a disciplinary process as long, painful, and retraumatizing as Amherst’s, receive a decision, and then not have it honored in the least,” Bolger said.

In response to claims that they were undermining the College’s disciplinary process, the leaders of Chi Psi and the student’s friend all argued that they took every precaution possible to ensure that the student did not interact with anyone from the College while he was staying at the Lodge. According to them, the student remained inside of the house nearly the entire time he was there, leaving only to get food at establishments not typically frequented by students or meet with his advisor while working on his appeal. Additionally, the student only left through the house’s back door, which faces away from campus, and was accompanied by one of the residents of the Lodge or another friend at all times. Leaders of the fraternity also argued that concerns about expelled students staying with students off campus after their expulsion should not be targeted specifically at fraternities, since most students living off campus are not members of fraternities.

Student-body president George Tepe ’14, whose association with Chi Psi was hotly debated during his election campaign, did not wish to publicly discuss this case, but released the following statement on January 17, printed in full:

“It is important to be open with the student body. I resigned from Chi Psi last week because I did not feel supported by the fraternity. In addition, I strongly disagreed with some decisions of the leadership regarding a member who had been found responsible for committing sexual assault and consequently expelled from Amherst. This was a trying personal decision involving those I considered my closest friends. Therefore, I need some time to reflect and figure out the implications for me personally.”

On the College’s part, Dean of Students Jim Larimore would only say that the College has no jurisdiction over non-College properties and added that discussions about the “ambiguous status” of fraternities and fraternity members at the College were “ongoing.” Nonetheless, this case has some activists feeling disillusioned with the College’s claims that fraternities have little direct relevance to discussions about sexual assault and underscored the need to clarify the role of fraternities at the College.

“We spent a lot of time over the past year and a half debating the role of frats and I think this shows that frats play a bigger role than some of us would like to admit. This is scarily reflective of how rapists are able to thrive in our communities because there are always people willing to protect them,” Dixit said.

Update: Please see the statement published by the author regarding the public reaction to this post.

About Ethan Corey

Ethan Corey is a junior at Amherst College. Find him on Twitter at @ethanscorey or share your thoughts in the comments.

28 comments on “Expelled Student Stays In House Associated With Off-Campus Fraternity

  1. Alum10
    January 23, 2014

    What exactly does the author of this article think was done wrong here?

    The college expelled the student in question, as I’ll go ahead and assume was the correct decision, and as a result the student was immediately required to leave campus — which makes perfect sense. But the college doesn’t have the power to force the student to leave the town of Amherst. Nor should it.

    I can understand how the victim might feel uncomfortable knowing that her assailant was so close. (Did she even know that he was in Amherst? He and the residents of “the Lodge” appear to have taken every precaution to ensure that no one at the school would know he was staying there.) But Amherst College does not have the power to make her assailant relocate thousands of miles away — or, for that matter, to put him in jail. These sorts of solutions are the proper purview of the criminal justice system — restraining orders, criminal charges, jail time, etc.

    As is, the expelled student needed to live somewhere. He has the right to an appeal (as he well should — though I doubt he will be successful). The residents of “the Lodge” gave him a place to stay for a short period of time so that he wouldn’t be living out of his car, since he apparently had neither a home to go back to nor the money to afford a hotel. The residents did not violate the law or any College rules.

    Again: what does the author of the article think was done wrong here? Would he have written this article if the expelled student had stayed with non-fraternity-member friends living off campus, or at the Lord Jeff? Or was this just a convenient excuse to tar fraternities via guilt-by-association?

    The fact that this student was expelled at all suggests that the College has come a long way in how it responds to allegations of sexual assault on campus. Proponents of continued positive change in how the school deals with sexual assault don’t help the cause by picking an unnecessary fight with a fraternity simply because four of its members decided to provide temporary lodging to a friend with nowhere else to go.

    • Anonymous
      January 23, 2014

      I agree with this commenter. I was relatively anti-fraternity in my days at Amherst, but I think this article a thinly veiled excuse to bash them.

    • Anonymous
      January 24, 2014

      I think part of the issue is that the student’s residing in “The Lodge” is viewed as a violation of the national frat’s bylaws and therefore serves to highlight the problem of underground frats. They’re underground, so they aren’t effectively kept in check by the national bylaws that govern official branches of the frat on other campuses.

      • Anonymous
        January 24, 2014

        But the author of this article stated that the bylaws state that an ‘alumnus’ is not permitted to reside in the lodge, and that the expelled student became an alumnus when he was expelled from the college. This does not seem factually correct–if you are expelled without graduating, then you are not an alumnus. So no bylaw even seems to have been broken, yet the article was still written.

      • Ethan Corey
        January 24, 2014

        To clarify, I received confirmation from the national Chi Psi organization that an expelled student is considered an “alumnus” for the purposes of Chi Psi’s bylaws.

    • Dan Adler (@dadlerler)
      January 24, 2014

      “What does the author of the article think was done wrong here? Would he have written this article if the expelled student had stayed with non-fraternity-member friends living off campus, or at the Lord Jeff? Or was this just a convenient excuse to tar fraternities via guilt-by-association?”

      I don’t know Ethan, but I imagine that he would have. Both of the hypothetical situations you offer would be sufficiently bad to be worth writing about (though in the case of the latter situation, there wouldn’t be too much to talk about–hard to involve the manager of the Lord Jeff in our conversations about sexual assault). But there’s a particular fraternity-related question here to be discussed, so I think Ethan was right to mention Chi Psi’s involvement. That question is whether the hosts’ being fraternity members had any bearing on their decisions to be the assailant’s hosts (and, more generally, whether and how fraternity culture at Amherst is related to rape culture at Amherst). Frankly, I don’t know the answer to that question–knowing the students involved, I’m even inclined to say no!–but I think it’s certainly worth thinking about. I thought the article was fine for that reason. It posed that question, gave Chi Psi’s answer to it, and gave us a forum to talk about it.

      • Alum
        January 24, 2014

        “Both of the hypothetical situations you offer would be sufficiently bad to be worth writing about (though in the case of the latter situation, there wouldn’t be too much to talk about–hard to involve the manager of the Lord Jeff in our conversations about sexual assault).”

        That’s where I disagree. The student was expelled, and as such he’s not allowed on campus. Good. But what he does with himself off campus after that expulsion doesn’t strike me as a matter worthy of investigation by the ACVoice, unless he was in fact harassing his alleged victim. By Ethan’s own account, he wasn’t doing that; he was maintaining as low a profile as possible and attempting to avoid any interactions with Amherst College students.

      • Alum
        January 24, 2014

        To reiterate: expulsion does not mean you can’t stay within the town of Amherst. And based on what very little I know of the appeals process (just what’s said in this article, basically), staying within relatively close proximity to Amherst seems somewhat necessary.

        Do you and Ethan think that expulsion *should* mean that the expelled student can’t stay in Amherst? How far should he be forced to move? Can he stay within Massachusetts? If he moves to Brooklyn, but then after graduation the victim also moves to Brooklyn, should he be forced to leave Brooklyn as well?

        You seem to think there should be a restraining order in place. There isn’t. If the situation is as dire as you seem to think that it is, then the victim should be able to get a restraining order via proper legal channels. But let’s stop pretending that, because this person was expelled from Amherst College, his freedom of movement is now drastically limited beyond the terms of that expulsion.

        It’s inappropriate for the ACVoice to be tracking his whereabouts and broadcasting them for public consumption (unless, again, he’s harassing his victim; that’s obviously a different story). I think Ethan probably knows that, which is why I’m confident he would not have written this article if this person had stayed anywhere other than at an off-campus fraternity residence.

    • Alum
      January 24, 2014

      But Ethan, would you have written this article if the student stayed with a non-fraternity friend who lived off campus? Or if he had been able to somehow obtain housing of his own in Amherst (e.g., at a hotel)? If so, then why did this become an article about the national Chi Psi organization’s bylaws?

      • Anonymous
        January 26, 2014

        I think part of the concern is that the house in question is directly behind Hitchcock (the old Alpha Delta Phi house) with respect to the town commons.

        From the article, it seems the reason the bylaws of Chi Psi were invoked is to discuss the comparative differences between on-campus and off-campus fraternities where oversight is concerned. This is a legitimate topic of discussion, not a mere vehicle for ‘frat-bashing’.The off-campus, underground model that we have today is more difficult to police than the on-campus model, although the social scene is much improved from when the frats’ heyday.

        I think Ethan was right to write this article and he considered the views of most of the involved parties, I would say. The article is informative and pertinent as many on campus are put off by the thought of someone who was expelled being able to find lodging with his Amherst buddies–albeit very nice guys in their own rights–not ten yards from one of our dorms.

    • 5colleges
      January 24, 2014

      Good point, Alum10. He should have had a really trial and been out in jail.
      It is nice to finally see steps to correct the culture of tolerance around sexual abuse at Amherst. It is threatening not only to the students of Amherst college, but those visitingt eh campus from all of the Five Colleges, and probably even locals and guests. I think a broader forum of discussion is needed. There isa. Pact of mutual responsibility undertaken by being part of the consortium, and the Amherst administration needs to owning up to its obligations and failures to all those they have made unsafe during past decades by failing to properly investigate or sanction sexual abusers, assaulted, and rapists.

      • 5colleges
        January 24, 2014

        Apologies for the typos.
        *he should have had a real trial and been put in jail.

    • Anonymous
      January 24, 2014

      I don’t feel like the author is saying anything is “wrong” here. I found the piece very unbiased and straightforward. He presents all sides of the story and writes relatively free of judgment on any of them. He’s just reporting the news.

      • Alum
        January 24, 2014

        All reporting reflects a viewpoint. Simply deciding what gets coverage is an inherently normative decision. The author wouldn’t have written the story if he didn’t think something was “wrong” with this situation; it’s not newsworthy otherwise.

  2. Anonymous
    January 23, 2014

    This article is extremely inappropriate. This issue is a personal one and should not be exploited as it is in this article. I urge you to respect the privacy of all parties involved.

  3. Guest
    January 24, 2014

    The point to me is that the fraternity didn’t deem this person to have committed a crime so injurious that he did not warrant a lengthy stay at “The Lodge,” presumably surrounded with his close friends. Why did the fraternity need to step in for this poor soul if the College deemed otherwise?

    Also, yes, a not so thinly veiled way to point out the college’s first notable expulsion for sexual assault in nearly two decades was for a Chi Psi bro.

    • Anonymous
      January 24, 2014

      Correlation, not causation. If a minority student committed the alleged crime and you said that was significant, a person might call you a bigot. Don’t be a hypocrite.

    • Alum
      January 24, 2014

      Or maybe the bonds of friendship and fraternity are such that, even if you think your brother may have committed an incredibly serious crime, you’re still going to give him lodging in his time of need so that he doesn’t have to live out of his car in the middle of the polar vortex.

      But sure, just go ahead and assume this means Chi Psi is pro-rape. Because that’s the fair assumption to make here.

    • Alum
      January 24, 2014

      I hope your friends know that, if they’re ever convicted of a crime by a college’s administrative tribunal, you will (1) immediately assume that they are, in fact, guilty, even before they’ve had the chance to appeal and despite all of your own personal interactions with them; and (2) let them go homeless during freezing cold weather in the middle of a blizzard.

  4. Alum
    January 24, 2014

    The quotes from Dixit and Bolger are especially eye-popping. The expulsion was “rendered meaningless” because of the College’s inability to regulate fraternities? Really, Dixit?

    Arguably the most significant thing about the expulsion is the expressive message it sends; it’s a punishment that hasn’t been meted out for a violation of the College’s Sexual Misconduct policy in nearly twenty years. The College has sent the message, as forcefully as it is able, that this student’s actions were completely intolerable — so intolerable that he will not be allowed to graduate from Amherst. It’s a badge of shame that he is going to wear forever.

    In addition to the shame that comes with such a forceful, public condemnation, expulsion obviously brings with it serious real-world consequences. This kid isn’t graduating in May. He’s never getting his Amherst degree. He’ll probably struggle to find a job, especially if, as the article suggests, he doesn’t come from privilege. I’m sure there are many other ripple-effect consequences of which I haven’t even thought. His life is basically ruined.

    All of which is not to say that you should feel sorry for this person. If he’s guilty, he deserves this, perhaps more. But he has the right to an appeal — due process, y’know? — and he’s well within his rights to stay in Amherst while he figures that out. To say that his expulsion was “rendered meaningless” simply because was able to stay in town after the expulsion is, frankly, insane. Did you want him tarred-and-feathered and run out of town on a rail?

    Dana Bolger’s quote isn’t much better. I understand her concern, but it’s simply incorrect to say that Amherst’s decision was “not . . . honored in the least.” The student was expelled and asked to leave campus. He did so. Amherst College did not — because it could not — require him to leave the town of Amherst. A justifiable concern for the victim’s healing process does not magically transform expulsion into a restraining order. If the victim wants or needs a restraining order, then there are ways for her to get one. But unless and until she does, this expelled student has done nothing wrong by staying within the town of Amherst, nor did the residents of South Prospect do anything wrong by letting him temporarily stay at their house.

  5. Anonymous
    January 24, 2014

    You gave so many details about this case–I wonder how that is possible since the college did not tell us who the expelled student was, or even that he was in a fraternity. Not only does it sound like several people are talking about the trial when they are not supposed to be, but you have just made it very easy for other students to determine who was expelled, and who brought that student to trial. The school is quite small, so the details that you have provided here can be used to infer lots of information about the students involved in this case. You mentioned that the trial process can be very challenging for victims and that seeing the expelled student could be harmful to the victim, which is obviously true. But then you go and give all of these details about the case which could be used to identify the victim for retaliation. There is a reason that people are not supposed to go blabbing about these private trials–to protect the victim’s privacy. You have threatened that privacy by writing this article, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    If you think the college has done something wrong or a policy concerning frats needs to change, then talk about that. You did not need to bring up a specific case and link it to the email that we all received about it.

  6. Anonymous
    January 24, 2014

    In sexual assault cases the anonymity of each party is extremely important. Not to be perpetrator-friendly here but you should not identify any person involved in this case. By identifying the perpetrator as a member of chi psi you not only circle ~30 kids that this could be, but you also possibly highlight the victim. Identifying the assailant could help others identify the victim. That isn’t right

    Would you ever write the victim was on the basketball team? This doesn’t identify the victim, but it’s close. Similar precuations should be taken for the assailant as well.

    • Twe
      January 24, 2014

      Anyone who knows most members of Chi Psi already knows who the perpetrator is.
      The majority of the student body can’t even name 15 members, I’d guess. The author of this article made sure to absolve members of the fraternity by stating that none but 4 had any say in what happened at the lodge.

  7. terrairradient
    January 24, 2014

    I’ve grown increasingly concerned that colleges and universities continue the position they are a law unto themselves. I was outraged at the stories of Amherst’s treatment of Angie Epifano and deeply saddened over the suicide of Trey Malone. I have consistently advocated that a victim (and in the present instance it appears all are assuming the victim was a young woman) immediately seek outside legal and psychological counsel and report the assault to local law enforcement because I have not seen as yet that the College does so, (and should) but rather wishes to handle the incident in-house. The College appears due to outside pressure as much as some moral imperative to be creating a more supportive infra-structure, and for that I am thankful, but a proper approach during orientation (and every parent’s duty) is to recognize the College should be a valuable second line of support and not in any manner obfuscate, contaminate, hinder a criminal inquiry. Did the victim have outside representation at the Board Hearing? Was the case being investigated by police? Did the victim seek and receive a restraining order? Was the alleged perpetrator arrested? Was all the evidence that apparently lead to a swift decision to expel the student turned over to the prosecutor? In it’s concern about fraternity rules, the article is simply just asking all the wrong questions.

  8. Pingback: Why I Wrote “Expelled Student Stays In House Associated With Off-Campus Fraternity” | AC VOICE

  9. Anonymous
    January 29, 2014

    I find the article preposterous, biased and part of a witch hunt that has been started at amherst.

  10. Victimofassault
    February 7, 2014

    I think this article very unfairly exposes the student’s identity. It’s disappointing to see those who ask to be treated with respect and dignity (as they should!) decide that he does not deserve privacy.

  11. Pingback: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you,” (Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings). | corawithano

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