Phi Delta Theta’s probation lifted by National Headquarters and WC to grant them housing back in Cecil

By Victoria Gill-Gomez

News Editor

The Phi Delta Theta Fraternity’s Maryland Gamma Chapter reclaimed Cecil House, which was a co-ed dormitory for the 2019-2020 academic year, after their probation was lifted.

“The phrase ‘ecstatic’ does not really do justice to the feelings me and my brothers had when we heard,” junior Mason Drummey, president of the Maryland Gamma Chapter, said. “It was this culmination of all our hard work the previous year to reform the chapter; we felt as though we had finally achieved recognition from others of our efforts to change and better ourselves.”

According to senior Jack Peterson, president of the Interfraternity Council, Phi Delta Theta National Headquarters lifted the chapter’s probation in December of 2019 while Washington College lifted the probation in March 2020.

The chapter was put on probation in the spring of 2019 after allegations came to the College’s administration about the fraternity hazing new pledge members.

After an investigation by the administration and Public Safety concluded these allegations to be true, the Maryland Gamma Chapter was placed under probation by both the College and the national headquarters. The brothers consequently lost the privilege to live in Cecil House for the 2019-2020 academic year and the chance to recruit new members for that upcoming rush season.

Drummey said that the pledges, who were not official members, and junior members of the Maryland Gamma Chapter were hazed by their older, and now graduated, brothers. 

As part of the probation process, the junior members and pledges attended online training and conferences during break and other school events, and were subject to terms such as an increase of check-in reports to show how the brothers were managing risks and continue to be subject to them.

“The [current members] in Maryland Gamma are still paying for something they did not do, and they do it without complaint,” Drummey said. “We wanted to to see this chapter change just as much as the older brothers.”

To get the probation lifted by the school, both Drummey and Peterson said it took a year of productive work to rehabilitate the reputation of the fraternity. Besides filling out paperwork for their philanthropy events, the brothers performed volunteer work to aid other Greek Life organizations and help build a better campus community as a whole.

“The chapter understood its faults and worked hard to change them,” Drummey said.

Organizing the chapter’s annual “Crab Feast” with only nine brothers actively participating in the chapter was the challenge to prove their rehabilitation, according to Peterson.

The Crab Fest, the chapter’s biggest philanthropy event of the year, raised $8,000 for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research.

This task was not without recognition as the brothers were awarded with Phi Delta Theta’s National Service and Philanthropy award. They also received their first Outstanding Chapter Excellence Award Silver Star, which, according to Peterson, is given to the top 25 chapters of the national fraternity. 

Without access to Cecil, the brothers instead met in Drummey’s suite. Drummey’s dormitory was where executive board meetings were conducted.

According to Drummey, these executive board meetings focused on “retaining our brotherhood by working together, studying together, eating together, but on individual times and locations.”

According to former Assistant Director of Student Engagement Sarah Tansits, losing any chapter changes the dynamics of student life because each philanthropy has different effects on the community and appeal to varying social groups. 

WC’s Interfraternal Council, made up of representatives from each fraternity organization, has worked to create sustainable change to the Greek Life system, according to Peterson. 

While starting to “forge a new path for the fraternities” on campus, Peterson said the council is taking the first steps to create new educational programs to help fraternity brothers within every chapter create a healthier and more supportive environment for their organizations and the campus overall.

“We admit that there is a lot of work to do, but we are committed to ensuring that a Fraternal system is a place free of any form of misconduct, discrimination, or hate. The IFC is driven to create a more inclusive, educated, and respectful Greek System,” Peterson said.

With the onset of COVID-19, both Peterson and Drummey agreed that this is a challenging time for all of Greek Life due to the lack of in-person interaction affecting the recruitment process drastically from other semesters.

Even though Phi Delta Theta is allowed to recruit new members at the moment, Drummey said that the chapter decided to not hold traditional recruitment, nor are they handing out bids, until they are hopefully back on campus in the spring.

“The brothers agreed that the new member process, which is supposed to be a period of strengthening bonds and friendships between brothers and fellow new members, would be nearly impossible to facilitate virtually,” Drummey said.

As they have previously faced six months of continuous Zoom meetings and social distancing, Drummey said that this period will give them the chance to take a step back, evaluate their current situation, and observe where they need to go in order to continue improving and allow the chapter to formulate plans to achieve that positive growth.

“I just wanted to say how proud I am of the fraternity that has grown from a year and a half ago…This presidency with COVID-19 has not been the one I wanted, or the one I expected, but I am too proud to properly put in words of the men in this chapter. It has been an honor to represent them, and I am damn proud to be a Phi,” Drummey said.

Featured Photo caption: Cecil house was built for the brothers of Phi Delta Theta but also houses non-fraternity male students during the year if the rooms are not occupied. Elm File Photo.

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