The Sept. 26 edition of The Collegian featured on its front page an article by news reporter Katrina Garcia under the headline, “Who’s in charge?”
The article, referring to an alcohol-related incident involving members of the sorority Delta Zeta, posed the central question: When fraternities and sororities find themselves embroiled in issues with potential legal recourse, to whom do they turn, and to whom are they accountable?
On Sept. 12, The Collegian was forwarded an unsolicited e-mail illustrating an alcohol-related incident involving underage drinking. The author of the e-mail, affiliated with Delta Zeta, expressed “serious concerns” about the occurrence. The content of the e-mail — which included information about executive members, potentials and the severity of the alcohol use — prompted The Collegian’s inquiry into the situation.
During the course of the inquiry, The Collegian discovered through Delta Zeta’s faculty adviser, Dan Carrion, that the events described in the e-mail did not match with findings of an internal investigation, conducted by the Regional Collegiate Coordinator of Delta Zeta, Sandy Hall, as well as Recruitment Adviser Melissa Littlewood. Neither Hall nor Littlewood are affiliated with the university.
This discovery shifted the focus of our inquiry to the issue of accountability.
A detail of the events that occurred — as Carrion recounted to Garcia on the evening of Monday, Sept. 24 — describes a situation in which two girls, a Delta Zeta potential and her friend, attended an event hosted by the sorority. According to Carrion, the girls left the event for a fraternity party, where the friend of the potential was later discovered intoxicated and feeling ill.
Carrion told The Collegian that the friend was discovered by other Delta Zeta sisters, who took the girl back the their sorority house and notified the president of the sorority, who in turn notified Littlewood, an alumna of Delta Zeta.
Despite multiple attempts to contact current members of the sorority, including President Joann Mercado, Delta Zeta has failed to agree to any interviews with The Collegian. None of these events have been officially confirmed to The Collegian by Delta Zeta sisters.
On Friday, Sept. 21, when Garcia conducted her first interview with Carrion, he reacted with surprise to the news of the occurrence, as he had not been informed.
According to Littlewood, with whom Garcia spoke the previous day, an internal investigation was already under way. “If it’s internal, I should’ve known about it,” Carrion said on Friday, upon being informed by The Collegian of the Delta Zeta investigation. Their investigation consisted of interviews conducted with members present at the incident.
Only after being approached by The Collegian did the sorority schedule an appointment informing their faculty adviser of the occurrence, where representatives gave their summary of events to Carrion.
Garcia’s second interview with Carrion, in conjunction with his initial surprise, catalyzed the focus of the story.
A later interview with Laura Williams, Greek adviser for the university, added another layer to the inquiry. Williams said there is no general protocol requiring Greek organizations to alert their faculty advisers of internal investigations, though certain chapters do mandate the notification of certain advisers in their particular constitutions. Furthermore, they are not required to disclose any of these investigations to Williams.
This raised our concerns. While Greeks are ultimately under the jurisdiction of the Division of Student Affairs, they are not necessarily required to inform anybody affiliated with the university of occurrences that chapters believe warrant internal investigations.
The accountability factor was ultimately the focus of the article, one which a number of our critics seem to have missed.
In essence, Garcia’s article is about the accountability within the Greek system, not members of the Greek community.
The article was never intended as a means of reinforcing stereotypes about Greeks. Rather, the intent was to inform our readers of how the process of reporting incidents in the Greek system works, and to illuminate the murky rules of accountability between fraternities and sororities and their university advisers.
While we are not in the position to legislate for Greek organizations, we believe it is our duty to question why university-affiliated organizations are not required to report to the university.
The current system allows Greeks to report incidents to whomever they choose, and unless a police report is forwarded to the university, Fresno State can be kept in the dark about problems within Greek organizations.
We believe if a problem merits an internal investigation on behalf of a chapter, the university should, at the very least, know about it, if not conduct its own investigation. How qualified is any organization to investigate itself?
This is a conflict of interest — a position with which we believe hardly anybody would disagree.
For the good of the university, no organization — Greek or otherwise — should be able to use the school simply for legal cover, should an incident escalate to a level necessitating university involvement, by their current standards.
The current system demands a heavy dose of personal responsibility and the current system demands little in the way of specific accountability.
The current system demands review and change.