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MU to review Greek Life system

A consultant will review the University of Missouri’s policies and procedures governing the Greek Life system.

The school hired Dyad Strategies of Florida to help the school “get a sense of national best practices related to Greek Life and current policies and procedures in place,” according to Liz McCune of the MU News Bureau. Dyad’s work started in July and will last until the end of September.

ABC 17 News has covered the ways MU has investigated and punished several Greek organizations. The school withdrew its recognition of two fraternities as student organizations last school year for repeated violations of student conduct rules.

The review, according to McCune, started after Gary Ward became the new Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. MU paid Dyad $22,000 to “review policies and procedures related to alcohol and drugs; housing; trainings and workshops; hazing; and recruitment and retention,” McCune said in an email.

Thirteen Greek organizations faced sanctions in the Fall 2016 semester, according to data posted on the school’s Greek Life website. Both Kappa Alpha Order and Sigma Pi fraternities lost their recognition as student organizations, which means they cannot participate in University-sponsored functions, use school facilities as a group or represent themselves as school-sponsored organizations.

Kappa Alpha Order’s withdrawal will last five years, while Sigma Pi received a permanent ban.

Lynn Zingale, the mother of a former student and Kappa Alpha Order pledge, said the school should focus on toughening up their punishments for Greek groups that violate alcohol policies. Zingale’s son was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning the morning after a vodka-chugging contest, which she claims was forced on pledges. Fraternity members didn’t call for medical help for several hours, leaving her son in a room with a backpack on to stop him from turning onto his back and potentially choking on his own vomit.

“What I’ve been seeing is nothing gets done unless there’s a death,” Zingale told ABC 17 News. “Let’s not wait for another death.”

The withdrawal of recognition as a punishment might actually make it more unsafe for students, Zingale said. The Greek organization is no longer under school supervision, and isn’t subject to inspections for visible hard liquor or drugs.

It’s unclear just how many Greek organizations with houses near campus are recognized by the university. Because the Greek groups themselves own the houses, the groups can continue to advertise for new members. The school also doesn’t keep a list of the current organizations under probation or suspension, which Zingale said could help students and parents inform themselves about the system.

Zingale said students also need better education on how to recognize signs of alcohol poisoning. She likened her son’s case to that of Timothy Piazza, the 19-year-old who died at the Penn State Beta Theta Pi house in February. Piazza died after binge drinking at the house and falling down a flight of steps. Fraternity members called for help 12 hours after the fall, repeatedly trying to wake Piazza up by hitting him and dousing him in water.

“[Students] need to be educated when a person has had too much to drink and what to do with them,” Zingale said. “For example, throwing a backpack on someone or throwing them on a couch to sleep it off isn’t always the best thing to do.”

(Editor’s note, 8/17: The story erroneously identified the house Timothy Piazza died in as the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house. It has been corrected to the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house.)

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