Colleen Hammond | News Editor
Citing, “the careless and irresponsible activities of our fraternities and sororities,” Doug Frizzell, senior vice president of student life, on Wednesday suspended all of Duquesne’s Greek Life until February for repeated violations of COVID-19 protocols.
As part of their suspension, all Greek organizations are prohibited from hosting all virtual and in-person activities including social gatherings, recruiting events and charitable functions. It is unclear if their on-campus housing will be dissolved or disbanded now or in the coming weeks.
Frizzell informed the presidents of all 16 active Greek organizations on campus at an emergency meeting at noon on Wednesday, saying that they failed to live up to their organization’s mission statements.
“We made the decision due to repeated and egregious violations of the university’s Student Code of Conduct COVID-19 standards by several organizations and numerous members of Greek organizations,” Frizzell said in a statement sent to all students on Wednesday evening.
Citing FERPA, the Office of Greek Life refused to say how many students within those groups have tested positive for the virus or been cited for violating campus rules.
Frizzell made it clear in his statement that COVID-19 protocol violations are not few and far between.
“Despite several sanctions and repeated warnings, our Greek organizations sadly did not (comply),” Frizzell said.
Before the fall semester began, Greek Life presidents were notified of the new COVID-19 protocols and given strict orders to obey them at the risk of individual or organizational suspension, said Alpha Omicron Pi President Jenna Crouch.
“They put the fear of God in me,” Crouch said.
Crouch claimed that none of her more than 80 sorority sisters were involved in any large, in-person social gatherings and took pride in her chapter’s commitment to the health and wellbeing of the community.
“Their safety is a priority to me,” Crouch said.
She said she sought to minimize in-person events while maintaining a sense of community. Because the suspension began immediately, all Greek chapters were prohibited from even meeting virtually to break the news to their members, Crouch said. As a result, she sent a video message to all her chapter members explaining the situation.
“The university understands the challenges related to COVID-19 student expectations,” said Rebecca Mickler, director of Greek Life, and Annie Mullarkey Sawa, director of student conduct, in a statement to The Duke. “But the policies and protocols that Duquesne has implemented are essential to continue to keep campus open and offer an in-person experience.”
Despite Crouch’s best efforts to keep her organization safe and healthy, Alpha Omicron Pi will be subject to the same suspension as the Greek Life chapters who were hosting large gatherings, not social distancing and not wearing masks.
“I know not all students in these organizations took part in the actions, but as organizations that have a charge to work collectively for values they represent, the failure of some is often a negative reflection on the entire group,” Frizzell said.
In his scathing critique of Greek Life, Frizzell placed the blame for Duquesne’s rising COVID-19 case numbers on Greek organizations.
“At a time when the university and, indeed, our region needed those leaders most to live the values their organizations espouse, as a system they failed to do so.”
The day before this announcement rocked Duquesne’s Greek Life chapters, Duquesne reported 23 new cases of COVID-19 with over 50 students in isolation and another 205 in quarantine.
“For Greek Life at Duquesne, the next several weeks are a moment of reckoning and, hopefully, reflection,” Frizzell said.
He also warned students — Greek or not — to continue to abide by strict social distancing and mask wearing protocols during the upcoming Halloween holiday weekend.
“The desire of some to attend large parties does not outweigh the importance of taking precautions to prevent or limit the spread of COVID-19,” Mickler and Sawa said.
Although Greek Life has received the brunt of Frizzell’s disciplinary action, he noted that individual violations of COVID-19 protocols from both students and staff have been handled on a case by case basis. Still, Frizzell’s statement was adamant that Greek Life should be held responsible for their actions.
“It’s an unfortunate situation that fell on Greek life,” Crouch said. “But I don’t think it’s just Greek life.”