MORGANTOWN — The international office of a WVU fraternity banned last month warned its Theta Chi brothers in a letter that university President Gordon Gee’s action could be a harbinger of darker days to come for other student-led groups on campus.
“Today, WVU places onerous restrictions on the membership of fraternities,” read the letter signed by Theta Chi’s international president Tait Martin and its executive director Michael Mayer.
“Tomorrow, it could focus on political parties, religious organizations and community advocacy groups.”
Theta Chi and four other frats — Alpha Sigma Phi, Kappa Alpha Order, Phi Sigma Kappa and Sigma Chi — were banned “for at least 10 years,” in part from conflicts with the university and their national and international offices over the practice of recruiting first-semester freshmen.
WVU previously suspended Greek Life activities and banned the recruiting of such students after 18-year-old Nolan Burch died during a fraternity initiation in 2014.
The ban, meanwhile, forbids them from taking part in university-sanctioned fraternity and sorority events, including Greek Week and intermural sports.
That also includes using WVU’s signature “flying WV” logo in any marketing materials or official correspondence.
At the start of the fall semester, the five announced their intent to disassociate (to become independent) from the university.
In their letter, Martin and Mayer said Theta Chi is being unfairly targeted while also being denied due process concerning other penalties imposed on Greek organizations by the university.
“On at least two occasions in the last five years, WVU issued system-wide sanctions against all fraternities without any charges or hearings,” they wrote.
“In the most recent ‘Reaching the Summit’ system-wide action,” the letter continued, “fraternities, including Theta Chi, faced double jeopardy. Through the process, a committee was presented with conduct matters which were already adjudicated or otherwise resolved.”
The international president and executive director also touted Theta Chi’s national “Sacred Purpose” initiative, an anti-hazing platform that also offers prevention programs on drug and alcohol abuse, sexual misconduct prevention and mental health intervention.
Kappa Alpha Order and Sigma Chi also penned letters of their own stating the same earlier.
Martin and Mayer said in the meantime while Theta Chi “takes no pleasure in remaining at odds with any campus administrator” — the international office will continue to support its Morgantown brothers.
“Theta Chi remains resolute in its decision to continue operations as an independent organization,” the officers wrote.
“The Fraternity will remain steadfast in promoting health and safety, good citizenship, and the protection of student rights in the Morgantown community,” the letter read, in closing.
“Theta Chi invites like-minded WVU fraternities to stand with us as we work to safeguard our Constitutional freedoms.”
A WVU spokesman, meanwhile, said the university is standing by its previous statements “and has nothing further to add at this time.”
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