Once suspended, fraternity aims to be ‘shining light’ at university

The Alpha Gamma Rho house, home of the newly-recognized fraternity after being suspended in 2015 for allegations of hazing and providing alcohol to minors. (Alejandro Soto/The Collegian)

After being suspended in 2015, the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity is fully recognized once again by Fresno State.

Cole Hutton, president of the agricultural and social-professional fraternity, said that the organization was reinstated after following procedures by the university and the Interfraternity Council. Their suspension came after allegations surfaced in 2015 of hazing and providing alcohol to minors.

The members attended meetings, exchanged emails with the school and attended risk management classes in order to be reinstated, Hutton said.

The fraternity kept meeting during that time. They operated independently from Fresno State. Now they’ll operate just like other fraternities.

“Going through all this really drove us to be more organized and conscious about the things that we do,” Hutton said. “At the time [before the suspension], there was kind of a separation between brothers, and I think this has brought the house a lot closer together and we’ve all become really, really good friends.”

The fraternity has a long history at Fresno State ever since the house was built in the ‘60s. Hutton said the brotherhood originated when two separate fraternities joined together to form the current organization.

“Fresno State [has] such a large ag program,” Hutton said. “Us, as an agriculture fraternity, we should be one of those shining lights for the ag college and Fresno State in general, and that’s really what we’re trying to strive for.”

Fraternity vice president Nathaniel Roberts, who has been a member since fall of 2014, said the fraternity’s biggest changes were to make community service and academics a priority.

“We’re more focused on the things that we should be focused on as a fraternity […] a lot of stuff like [community service and academics] previously kind of got pushed to the wayside,” Roberts said.

Hutton and Roberts said that hazing is a thing of the past and they have committed to stop that. Recently, the alcohol-related death of a 20-year-old fraternity pledge from Florida State University led to the shutdown of all Greek life activities on that campus. Several other deaths recently have also been linked to hazing.

“We want these guys to be as good of brothers as we are and have those friendships too and singling somebody out like that, that’s not brotherhood,” Roberts said.

Hutton said keeping the morale of the members up as they carried out sanctions was difficult to work through.

“It’s hard to go through school and be in a fraternity and not get those benefits from your university,” he said. “It just feels good now to walk around with letters and know that your fraternity is represented in a good light now and you’re proud to wear it.”

Breanne Scogin, the senior program coordinator with Student Involvement at Fresno State, also serves at the Greek advisor for campus. She said she wants the students to get “the full Greek experience.”

She added that a goal of Fresno State is to help students involved with Greek life balance academics with their social lives, while staying safe.

She said the campus follows Matt’s Law, a state law, in situations involving hazing and that there are risk management policies for fraternities to follow.

“The goal is to provide [Greek life students] enough education and understanding of the issues that plague our Greek community so that they’re making the important choices and making good choices, whether that is for themselves or when they see someone else in distress, they’re able to get them help,” she said.

Scogin said the university has worked with Alpha Gamma Rho advisers at the local chapter and national office levels to ensure they are making positive changes.

“I would say at this time, the university has a great relationship with the chapter and I look forward to seeing them flourish and grow as we move forward,” she said.

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