Saint Martin's College withdraws recognition of four student organizations

Friday, October 18, 2002

Saint Martin’s earlier today announced that it is withdrawing recognition of four clubs for hazing and alcohol violations. The decision is effective immediately. The organizations, all funded by the Associated Students of Saint Martin’s College, the college’s student government, are: Alpha Sigma Chi, Sigma Mu Kappa, Delta Gamma Xi and Lambda Chi Omega, none of which are affiliated with national Greek organizations. The action also means that the organizations will no longer be eligible for funding through student activity fees administered through the student government.

The action is the result of an Oct. 7 administrative hearing to investigate several allegations of violations to the college’s Student Conduct Code during initiation week in September. The allegations consisted of two clubs’ alcohol possession and consumption in the college’s Old Main building, one incident of hazing and one incident of underage drinking at a group-sponsored event, said Melanie Richardson, the college’s dean of student services.

The four organizations’ history of documented incidents in the areas of alcohol-related and hazing activities, especially during club initiations, led to an investigation early in the 2001-02 academic year that confirmed several violations, she said.

At that time, the presidents of these clubs were called together to discuss ongoing problems that broke rules and laws and drew complaints from the community outside Saint Martin’s. The club presidents asked to be given the opportunity to forego discipline and develop an action plan to address the problems. During the remainder of the school year, club leaders completed an action plan and established initiation week guidelines that upheld the college’s Student Conduct Code and Washington State and federal law.

This September, at a pre-initiation week meeting between the administration and the four clubs, club leaders agreed to immediately report any violations that occurred to an appropriate College staff member. This did not occur, she said.

This fall, the four clubs involved chose to be reviewed as a single entity through an administrative hearing rather than singly through the college’s Student Conduct Committee process. The groups, represented by their leaders, agreed to accept any sanctions as a whole, even though the severity of the alleged offenses varied among the clubs. At the Oct. 7 hearing, club leaders acknowledged the above incidents had occurred.

“As a community, we cannot condone these types of chronic violations in college-affiliated organizations and continue to be consistent with the College’s mission statement,” Richardson said. “In recent years, Saint Martin’s has made a concerted effort to create an atmosphere where academic pursuits, student safety and student dignity are paramount.”

Among those efforts, college buildings were declared alcohol-free unless certain specific conditions were met, the freshman seminar curriculum was revised to address issues related to alcohol use and abuse and, most recently, the college was awarded a NCAA grant, one of 10 in the nation, to assess and reduce alcohol consumption by students.

“Saint Martin’s is not alone in these efforts. In consultation with colleges throughout the country and with legal counsel, it is apparent that the trend in institutional and legal intolerance for alcohol and hazing has grown dramatically in recent years,” she said. “The liability issues for club members themselves, for club advisors and for the institution are startling. Several pending and recent rulings in the courts attest to this.”

Richardson said the four clubs are not and never have been affiliated with national Greek organizations. Those organizations receive oversight, risk management, overall advising and direction from their national administrations.

For more information:
Melanie Richardson
Dean of student services
(360) 438-4367
mrichardson@stmartin.edu

Deanna Partlow
Media coordinator / senior editor
360-438-4541 or dpartlow@stmartin.edu