Fraternity on suspension for low member GPAs

The Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity’s university chapter has been suspended until spring 2015 because of low grade point averages, a university official said.

Andy Morgan, director of Greek Life, said the fraternity was not meeting university Greek standards. Kappa Alpha Psi’s Registered Student Organization status has been suspended, and the fraternity is not allowed to recruit new members, Morgan said. However, he said members are still eligible to be national fraternity participants.

“(The fraternity) was put on probation, and they were given some sanctions,” Morgan said. “They just didn’t follow them.”

The university requires Greek students to maintain a 2.5 semester GPA, he said, and the sorority or fraternity is required to put together a plan to raise members’ grades if the group’s GPA falls below that standard.

A hearing is held if the group’s GPA remains low a second semester, Morgan said. The organization is then required to follow a schedule to fix problems. Fraternities and sororities are not required to follow plans unless they have sanctions levied against them, he said, but many choose to follow plans anyway.

“Other chapters we put on academic probation, they did those sanctions,” Morgan said. “They saw their grades go up.”

Morgan said new Kappa Alpha Psi members are required to have at least a 2.7 GPA because of the sanctions, but the average GPA of all new members dropped to a 1.97 after members were recruited.

The last seven incoming classes dropped below the 2.5 required GPA after fraternity intake, which is the time when new members become full-fledged ones, he said.

“We’ve done everything we could have, encouraging them to do better academically,” Morgan said. “They just chose not to do it.”

Cordaro McKee, Kappa Alpha Psi president, said he understood why the fraternity was suspended, but he believes the suspension also had to do with a bias against Player’s Ball, the fraternity’s annual event.

“I feel like the suspension happened to get rid of the Player’s Ball,” he said. “With all the trouble that’s been happening within the university, the school needs someone to point a finger at.”

McKee said the media only covered Player’s Ball’s downsides last year but did not mention the money the event raised. He said the university also donated water for last year’s Polar Bear but did not help the Player’s Ball, which is a university event.

“You know there’s going to be people coming from all over drinking,” he said. “How come we don’t get tents of water and pizza to help solve those problems?”

McKee said the fraternity won the 2010 Most Improved Chapter award.

“I feel like the suspension until 2015 is very harsh,” he said. “I believe that suspension was made because of the Player’s Ball.”

The fraternity did not uphold everything it was asked to, he said, so he believed the suspension was needed.

One fraternity requirement is to submit paperwork in a timely manner, something Morgan and the fraternity had previous issues with, said Derrick Williams, Black Men’s Initiative head and National Pan-Hellenic Council adviser.

“Mainly, the sanctions and infractions came in previous semesters,” Williams said. “That’s my understanding.”

He said the fraternity members told him they had no excuse for not following sanctions, but younger members believed they were being punished because of older members’ actions.

“(New members) were making a case for, ‘We should be judged on our own merits,’ but that history follows them,” Williams said.

He said he wants to extend a helping hand to the students.

“(New members) have been receptive to working with me,” Williams said. “We’ve had these conversations, and I’m very optimistic about the younger guys and where they want to take this organization.”

While he stands firm behind the fraternity’s academic issues. Williams said he does see younger members’ desire to make organizational changes. He said Kappas have a rich legacy that he wants to maintain.

Morgan said some members lost sight of why they were allowed to join the fraternity.

“What allowed them to join the fraternity is being a student at SIU,” Morgan said. “They have a higher standard than the average student. They did not want to live up to that academic standard.”

Morgan said the fraternity completed an average of 4.9 community service hours per member last spring, with a total of 83.5 hours, and donated nothing to philanthropy.

The fraternity Omega Delta Phi was suspended last spring because of a poor GPA average, but the group completed the sanctions it was handed, he said. However, the fraternity did not improve its grades and will serve a year’s suspension, Morgan said.

Kappa Alpha Psi is a strong national fraternity, but the suspension demonstrates grade importance, said Jesse Cler, president of the Inter-Greek Council and a junior from Penfield studying agribusiness and plant and soil sciences.

“(The suspension) is something that we use (within the) Greek community as an example to show how important academics are to us,” Cler said. “It’s something we learn from.”

He said fraternity members should work together to fix issues.

“The best thing that they can do now is stick together,” he said. “Keep the interest going and work hard so that when they want to come back when the suspension is over, they can be in good standing and learn from it.”

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About Karsten Burgstahler

Karsten Burgstahler can be reached at kburgstahler@dailyegyptian.com or 536-3311 ext.255.

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