Alpha Omicron Pi will no longer recognize the University of California at Berkeley chapter's house, the women's fraternity announced Tuesday, saying it would strip the house of its letters, drop the house's insurance and bar any official activity from taking place there.
But the de-recognition is not because of any misconduct committed by the chapter's members. Rather, the house will lose recognition over an ongoing dispute between the chapter corporation's board and the international organization over who should control the property.
"This chapter was the first one west of the Mississippi and is one of the oldest still in existence," Sandy Jaeger, president of the Berkeley chapter's board, said. "And basically they're saying, 'we don't want you anymore.' We have been negotiating in good faith, but everything just comes back to that they want our property."
In 2005, Alpha Omicron Pi's Council voted to amend its governing documents to transfer the "property management responsibilities" of each chapter's house to the international organization. According to the organization, 134 of 135 Alpha Omicron Pi's corporations agreed to the new "coordinated management system." The lone holdout was the board at Berkeley, known as Sigma 1916.
After years of discussions, the international organization offered the Berkeley chapter a settlement proposal: the local chapter's corporation could keep the title for the house and local alumni could retain representation on the board, but it would have to yield majority control of the board to nonlocal representatives of the organization. After a chapter-wide vote, the local members declined the settlement in February, saying they did not want nonlocal representatives to make decisions about the house -- including about repairs and whether to mortgage the property.
This week, the chapter's members and alumni received an email from the organization's executive board announcing that the house would no longer be recognized as an Alpha Omicron Pi facility. In a statement Monday, Gayle Fitzpatrick, international president of Alpha Omicron Pi, said that the decision came after "more than 30 points of communication and many years of tireless efforts for resolution."
"We understand and appreciate the rich history of Sigma 1916, the Sigma collegiate chapter house and those who dedicated countless volunteer hours," Fitzpatrick stated. "However, by and through the AOII Executive Board, every corporation is obligated to uphold Council's decision to coordinate management for the benefit of the entire fraternal organization."
The statement noted that the other 134 chapter corporations "embraced" the coordinated management system. In 2013, however, the University of Minnesota corporation of Alpha Omicron Pi sued the international organization over similar issues. In that case, a federal judge ruled in a preliminary decision that the international organization could not "take over" the chapter's house.
The win was largely symbolic, as the corporation had already agreed to transfer management -- though not total ownership -- of the property to Alpha Omicron Pi. In June, the two groups agreed on a settlement, similar to what was offered to the Berkeley chapter.
"Some chapters have probably embraced this system because they don't have alumni who are willing to take on managing the property," Jaeger, president of the Berkeley chapter's board, said. "But this chapter built this house and have always managed this house, and there have always been very diligent alumni who are perfectly happy to give up their free to time to be in here making decisions and doing day-to-day stuff. They just want to use this property as a cash cow."
The University of Iowa must negotiate with its graduate student employee union over the reimbursement of student fees, according to a state court. The Iowa District Court for Polk County upheld an earlier Public Employee Relations Board finding that the university must bargain with graduate teaching and research assistants over the reimbursement of such fees, which equal several hundred dollars or more annually, depending on one’s program.
The Board of Regents for the State of Iowa had sought to overturn the board’s ruling, arguing that student fees should be exempt from mandatory bargaining as they pertain to union members’ student — not employee — status. But Judge Karen A. Romano ruled late last week that student fee reimbursements were supplemental pay, and therefore a mandatory bargaining topic in Iowa. Moreover, Romano wrote in her decision, supplemental pay is “triggered” by union members' status as employees, not students. Ruth Bryant, a master's of fine arts student and a spokeswoman for the Campaign to Organize Graduate Students (COGS), which is affiliated with the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America, said the ruling “validates and strengthens” the union’s fight.
Tom Moore, a spokesman for the university, said the Board of Regents was “evaluating the decision and considering its options.”
The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges has published a 12-page statement outlining the fiduciary duty of college and university trustees.
The statement, among other things, encourages boards not to act out of self interest, to create year-round recruitment programs to pool and vet governing board candidates, to create orientation programs for new members and to regularly assess how well board members are adhering to their fiduciary duties.
"Effective board members must be more than names on a masthead," reads the statement by AGB, which provides guidance to governing board members. "They must be fully engaged. They must attend meetings, read and evaluate the materials, ask questions and get answers, honor confidentiality, avoid conflicts of interest, demonstrate loyalty, understand and uphold mission, and ensure legal and ethical compliance. Those who cannot do so must step down and allow others to take their place."
The statement comes in the midst of a handful of states considering required training programs for university trustees.
The female student sued Oregon and its men's basketball coach last year over allegations that they recruited one of the players who allegedly assaulted her while knowing that he had previously been accused of sexual assault at Providence College. The suit also alleged that the university had scrubbed the three players' transcripts of any references to sexual misconduct, making it easier for them to transfer to play elsewhere after they were accused of misconduct at Oregon. The three students -- who were not charged -- were suspended for up to 10 years, but all have since transferred to play basketball at other colleges.
In addition, the student accused the university of violating her privacy by accessing her campus therapy records without her consent. As the lawsuit contended that the ordeal caused the student emotional distress, the university says it examined her mental health records to prepare for the litigation. The decision to review those records led to a national debate over privacy rights of campus sexual assault victims, though legal experts said the university did nothing illegal.
"I do not believe any of our coaches, administrators or other university personnel acted wrongfully, nor do I believe that any one of them failed to live up to the high moral standards that we value and that they embody in their work every day," Michael Schill, Oregon's president, said in a campuswide email on Tuesday.
"I do believe that we can no longer afford to debate the incident and must instead move forward and implement a comprehensive set of policies to ensure that all of our students will feel secure in the knowledge that they will be free from sexual violence and feel confident should allegations of misconduct be brought forth they will be dealt with fairly, effectively and expeditiously."
The employment data of several law schools will start to look very different after two American Bar Association decisions Friday.
The ABA affirmed a decision from earlier this year that requires law schools, starting next year, to count school-funded positions and fellowships separately from other employment. Critics of this process claimed that schools with large fellowship programs had inaccurately inflated employment figures.
Meanwhile, the ABA also defined "long term employment," another indicator of a school's employment success, as a position that lasts a year or longer and pays at least $40,000 a year. The change was hotly contested, as it will force many schools who offer fellowships with salaries under $40,000 to count those as short term employment.
Wesleyan University has suspended its chapter of Psi Upsilon, the university announced Monday, shutting down the one remaining fraternity on campus.
In an email sent to students and faculty, Michael Roth, Wesleyan's president, stated that the chapter was under investigation by state and federal prosecutors for "illegal drug activity," including group purchases of narcotics. The house will be suspended for at least one year, though Roth said the punishment could last longer as the investigation continues. The property will be off limits to all Wesleyan students.
"Police monitored and interrupted one of these transactions in May, and the police investigation into this activity is ongoing," Roth said in the email. "We will reconsider Psi U’s status after the relevant investigations conclude. The investigations may also result in other disciplinary consequences for those involved."
In September, Wesleyan ordered its fraternities to become coeducational. At the time, the university only had two fraternities on campus. Delta Kappa Epsilon was suspended five months later, the university said, for failing to "take any meaningful steps or make any reasonable commitments toward residential coeducation." In February, the fraternity sued Wesleyan for "discrimination, misrepresentation and deceptive practices." The lawsuit is still pending, but a motion to allow members to move back into the house this year was recently denied. An unofficial off-campus fraternity called Beta Theta Pi was also made off limits to students last year.
Psi Upsilon agreed to become coeducational, but the house will now be closed before any female students move in. "This turn of events is deeply disappointing for so many of us," Roth said. "It is certainly a blow to alumni and students who care for Psi U, and that includes the new women members who had planned to live there this fall."
Wesleyan has recently attempted to rein in drug use among its students after use of the party drug Molly led to a string of hospitalizations last year. Ten Wesleyan students and two campus visitors were hospitalized in one weekend in February. Many of those who required medical attention used the drug while at a party in the residence of Eclectic Society, a coeducational student organization. Eclectic Society remains on campus, though four students were suspended for selling what police described as a "bad batch" of Molly.