Fraternity’s destructive party accrues costs

Friday, April 6, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:29 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008
Alpha Tau Omega leaders fear the chapter may lose its house at 909 Richmond Ave. because of predicted financial trouble.

Alpha Tau Omega’s MU chapter could be forced to close as early as this fall after the campus Office of Greek Life upheld a sanction against the fraternity that prevents new members from living there.

Greek Life took disciplinary action against the fraternity after the group admitted to causing more than $11,000 in damage at the Lakeview Resort in Lake of the Ozarks last November, according to documents from the MU appeals hearing.

In that incident, more than a hundred members and their dates went to the 79-unit resort. Some members vandalized rooms and threw furniture and grills into the lake.

Co-owner Jake Drake reported the incident to the Camden County Sheriff’s Department but did not press charges against the group, asking instead that the chapter pay for the damage.

The fraternity, which was already on social probation for a 2005 hazing incident, received nine sanctions but appealed only one. It prevents new members from moving into the house at 909 Richmond Ave. That sanction is effective for only one semester. The others vary in length.

The fraternity must:

  • participate in two leadership training sessions
  • sponsor two alcohol-free events
  • ban overnight or out-of-town events until May 2008
  • meet with Greek Life staff monthly
  • repay Lakeview Resort for damages (which the chapter has already done)
  • not participate in Greek Week 2007, which began Wednesday
  • remain on disciplinary probation until May 2008.

The ninth is the chapter’s self-imposed sanction, which includes social probation until the end of the winter 2007 semester, undergoing a membership review by the national fraternity and completing a community service project in Camden County where Lakeview Resort is located.

“I felt the sanctions were very reasonable,” said Cathy Scroggs, vice chancellor of student affairs, who decided in February to uphold all of the sanctions. “There were some very good educational ones that would give them time to reflect and make some improvements in their chapter.”

Neither Greek Life or Student Affairs would disclose the actions taken against the fraternity in January until the Missourian obtained, through a Sunshine Law request, documents related to the sanctions and the chapter’s appeal.

The ban on new members moving in could force the fraternity to close because it leaves the chapter with too little room and board revenue to keep the house open, said Eric Hobbs, president of Alpha Tau Omega. Adding to the problem is that upperclassmen are moving out into apartments, other members have failed to meet academic requirements, and some members were kicked out because of their involvement with the incident last November.

According to documents presented by the fraternity in its appeal, the house is budgeted to accommodate 95 men. Alpha Tau Omega said its housing corporation will lose $150,000 for the fall 2007 semester without additional room and board from new members.

“The number of people in the house is what runs the budget,” Alpha Tau Omega advisor Gary Smith said, adding that the house will struggle to operate next year with a diminished number of members living there.

So now, the fraternity’s housing corporation must decide between cutting the budget and taking out a loan, or closing the house. Hobbs said the chapter is still discussing both options, but he said he hoped the group would take out a loan and make cuts to portions of the budget.

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