The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

Phi Zeta Delta suspended for 5 years

It’s unclear how the fraternity plans to move forward from last spring’s verdict
Shauna Muckle
Phi Zeta Delta’s letters have been scrubbed from the group’s former house, which has been converted to over-flow housing. Photo from September 2023.

Updated Sept. 26, 2023

One of Red Square’s two remaining fraternity houses had already been converted to overflow housing by the time students arrived on campus this year.

Phi Zeta Delta, colloquially known as Phi Delt, was once Washington and Lee’s lone local fraternity. The chapter has been suspended from campus for five years following an unsuccessful appeal. It’s unlikely that the chapter, which is not supported by a national fraternity, will continue to formally exist if not recognized by the university, said Kyle McCoil, primary advisor to the Interfraternity Council (IFC).

This month, mixers were still being planned with sororities at an off-campus house rented by former members of Phi Delt, known as “Pumptown,” located in a popular party venue in Rockbridge County called “Windfall hill.” The sorority Chi Omega told members of plans for a “mixer” at Pumptown on Sept. 15, according to GroupMe texts obtained by the Phi.

Multiple members of Chi Omega said they felt uncomfortable attending an event with members of a fraternity that had been kicked off campus, according to the GroupMe conversation.

“Due to these issues we won’t be planning anymore hangouts with pumptown and no one is under any obligation to attend the hangout tonight,” Chi Omega social chair Kylie Therrien,’25, wrote to members before the Sept. 15 event.

Phi Delt was found responsible for “allegations of hazing involving endangering the health and safety of new members,” according to Washington and Lee’s hazing prevention website. The verdict was first released by the IFC, the body that oversees fraternity conduct, on Feb. 10.

Phi Delt attempted to reverse that outcome by bringing the case to the University Board of Appeals (UBA). But the UBA found no grounds to hear the appeal and sent the decision back to the IFC to revise the sentence, a former member previously told the Phi.

The UBA can send a case back to a conduct body and consider an appeal of the second outcome, Dean Sidney Evans wrote in an email. The suspension verdict was later upheld by the UBA on April 26, nearly three months after the hazing case was reported.

Phi Delt’s president from last year, Nick Greene, ’24, did not respond to three written requests for comment. The Phi reached out to eight additional former members. None were willing to share comments on the record.

The Pi Kappa Alpha house is the only fraternity left in Red Square. (Chas Chapell)

Members of Phi Delt didn’t comment on whether the fraternity appealed the second verdict the fraternity received from the IFC. But Phi Delt is the only fraternity listed on the university website that submitted an appeal to the UBA.

Phi Delt can apply to return to campus for the 2027-2028 academic year in January 2027. By then, all former members will have graduated. The Student Affairs Committee will decide whether to approve the fraternity, should the group apply for reinstatement, McCoil said.

It’s unclear how the fraternity plans to move forward now that it is no longer recognized by the university.

In 2018, Phi Delt disaffiliated from its national organization, Phi Delta Theta, citing conflict over risk management policies. Washington and Lee’s chapter took issue with dry house rules required by the national chapter, which would have pushed events off-campus, the Phi previously reported.

Red Square’s last fraternity hangs on

Other Greek organizations are also still dealing with the effects of hazing investigations. Phi Delt was the first of three Greek organizations to receive hazing charges.

Pi Kappa Alpha and Pi Beta Phi were also found responsible for hazing last winter term. Pi Kappa Alpha was put on social probation for two weeks. Meanwhile, Pi Beta Phi was placed on critical probation until the end of winter term 2024.

Phi Delt’s house is now home to 18 upperclassmen (sophomores, juniors and seniors), including a Community Assistant, said Chris Reid, director of residence life at Washington and Lee. The university has no plans for the house other than to continue using it as overflow housing, he said.

Phi Delt’s absence means Pi Kappa Alpha, colloquially referred to as “Pike,” is the only fraternity remaining in Red Square, an area on campus otherwise populated by theme houses and the Development Office.

Chas Chappell, ’25, acting president of Pike, said that’s made throwing parties, particularly well-known ones like “Rodeo,” more of a headache.

Pike and Phi Delt used to split liability costs for parties. Now, Pike has to shoulder any fines for property damage alone, Chappell said.

As a result, Pike tried to hire a security guard for Rodeo. But Pike’s choice for security, a retired Public Safety officer, was rejected by the university because the former officer was not represented by a third-party security company, Chappell said.

“We felt like we had to scramble to get more security,” Chappell said. “We hadn’t initially thought through what a Red Square Rodeo would look like without Phi Delt.”

The solution, Chappell said, is to staff events with more sober monitors within the fraternity. Another Red Square fraternity bit the dust five years ago. Beta Theta Pi’s national chapter suspended the former fraternity from campus until 2022. The fraternity has not returned.

Chappell doesn’t think the demise of other Red Square fraternities means Pike is at risk. “We have a solid relationship with Dean McCoil,” Chappell said. “We really do believe he’s on our side.”

McCoil affirmed Chappell’s sentiment in an emailed statement to the Phi.

“There is no effort underway to eliminate the Greek system at W&L,” he wrote. “We continue to support our students’ choices about what organizations they want to have on campus.”

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Emma Malinak, Managing Editor
Shauna Muckle, Editor-in-Chief

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    AnonymousSep 26, 2023 at 12:35 pm

    The Chi O concerns had nothing to do with Phi Delt’s suspension… seems out of place, especially when it was added after this story was first published.