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And then there were five

Published: Thursday, October 2, 2008

Updated: Sunday, February 22, 2009 13:02

Brothers of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity are dissatisfied with the way that the university handled an incident last spring which led to the suspension of their chapter. "In the past whenever we have had an issue, we could talk about it," said former Lambda Chi Alpha president Rem Cantrell. "This time they were just done." Cantrell said that there is too much of a coincidence that Lambda Chi Alpha was removed at the same time that the university allowed another fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, to recolonize its chapter, since otherwise there would be six fraternities and only five fraternity houses. Deborah Thompson, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Campus Life, denied that the two were related. "These two decisions were made independently," Thompson said. "This decision [to recolonize Pi Kappa Alpha] was approved before the Lamb incident. The hope was to expand the number of fraternities on campus. There is no correlation between the two." Lambda Chi Alpha was suspended after an incident last April at the fraternity's annual Jimmy Buffet party at their fraternity house. University officials tried to break up the party and were met with hostility by the Lambda Chi Alpha brothers, including shouts of "Fuck Stetson!" and several homophobic slurs directed at members of Residential Life. The Deland Police Department was eventually called to remove anyone who did not reside at the Lambda Chi Alpha house, but did not file a report about the incident. "The police really didn't do much," Cantrell said. "They just checked some people's IDs and then left." The party was broken up because it was not registered with the university, said Christian Barker, Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs. "They had tried to register the party the week before with Anthony Buono and he would not approve it because it was Accepted Student Preview Weekend and he didn't want problems," Barker said. "[Cantrell] admitted to knowing it was unregistered." Cantrell denied knowing that the party was unregistered and said that it was not out of control and that the university had no reason to break it up. He said that the party was registered with Buono two years ago under the same circumstances and on the same weekend and that the university knew it would be happening. "The frustrating part is that Christian Barker told another student that he knew the party was going to happen and that they planned on breaking it up and no one called me," Cantrell said. "The whole thing could have been prevented." The Sunday after the incident, Thompson met with Lambda Chi Alpha at their weekly meetings and called the chapter "a disgrace to the entire campus" and said that they would "never be allowed back on campus," according to Cantrell. Over the summer, Thompson met with Lambda Chi Alpha's national headquarters and together decided to suspend the chapter for three years. "It was a joint decision that it was in the best interests to close the current chapter for a three year period," Thompson said. "The university and the national office would take very seriously any decision to close the chapter. It was not made lightly. There was evidence that it was a necessary action."

Cantrell, however, said that the school gave the chapter a harsher punishment than the national headquarters suggested. "Nationals suggested probation for a year and that suggestion was passed on to the school," Cantrell said. "They had to change the decision when communication broke down with the school." According to Thompson, the chapter may try to appeal the suspension, but "there is no guarantee that such an appeal will be granted." In addition to the suspension of their chapter, Lambda Chi Alpha brothers Devin Wilkins and Mike Gallarello were expelled, and several other members were fined. Both current members and alumni of Lambda Chi Alpha were upset about the suspension and felt that the situation could have been handled better. "With Campus Life and the closely-related Judicial Officer being police, prosecutor, judge, and jury, there seemed to be little room for 'process,'" said George Mitcheson, class of 1970 and Lambda Chi Alpha alumnus. Both Cantrell and Mitcheson said that they had written to Thompson and President Doug Lee about the suspension, but received no response. "Is that any way to gain respect, earn trust, or make alumni feel like anything other than second class citizens?" Mitcheson said.

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