COLUMN: Guilty of silence


Hicks_Justin

At one point, the name Delta Chi meant freedom, character, justice and education. Today it carries a bit more baggage at Central Michigan University.

Throughout this week, Central Michigan Life will publish stories regarding both the fraternity and the Greek community.

Although some might interpret the series as the newspaper resurrecting old news, we haven’t stopped reporting on this controversy since September 2013.

The delay in follow up is due to a continued lack of cooperation, mostly from members of the fraternity formerly known as Delta Chi.

CM Life hosted several meetings with members, the majority of which were off the record at their request. Several answers given by those members, however, contradicted those given by other members and university officials.

Getting the story straight has been a challenge.

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Ignoring it would mean failing to inform the community that the student charged by the university with an alleged sexual assault was suspended from CMU for a semester, has since returned to campus, and remains a member of Delta Chi.

It would allow people who claim to have “inside information” to continue misleading the community.

It would allow liars to paint prettier pictures than reality would suggest.

Delta Chi was suspended for code of conduct violations involving alcohol. Its pattern of trouble dating back 15 years provided evidence of failed past sanctions and led officials to ask for a more severe punishment.

I understand the violations might have been at the hands of a few, and a group has been punished for those actions. That same group, however, hasn’t publically taken responsibility for the actions of their brothers and continues to defy the university.

No matter how many tantrums lawyer Todd Levitt throws on Twitter, members of Delta Chi are not victims.

They have, however, failed to salvage respect on campus. The group hasn’t taken much initiative beyond a letter appearing in CM Life.

Regardless of suggestions that a rape never occurred, one fact is clear: An incapacitated man or woman is incapable of giving consent for sex.

Period.

As a fraternity, Delta Chi was found guilty of an alcohol violation. It is guilty of a troubled past and a failure to learn from previous sanctions.

It is also guilty of silence.

Taking responsibility could have gone a long way to regain trust from the university.

Instead, members of the “underground fraternity” refuse to communicate with the campus community, hiding behind no-comments and their national chapter.

President Zach Ernat met with CM Life staff several times, assuring us of missing details that paint the fraternity brothers as the victims, though he never backed his comments with fact.

He denied the students involved in the sickening April 19 accusations were even members of the fraternity – points later denied by university officials and another Delta Chi member.

Members of the group continue to act selfishly. They refuse to acknowledge the sanctions given to them by CMU. They continue to recruit. They complain about having to take down the letters from their house.

I will credit senior Jeff LaHaye for his forthright honesty and willingness to go on record regarding our series.

As the only brother willing to address the fraternity’s problems, he represents a hope that some members do want to do right, but fear the response they might receive.

We would have preferred a one-and-done story in January. Instead, we chased leads and questioned sources, reaching out several times only to have been pushed away.

In this case, the actions of a few have dragged a pair of letters, several brothers and an entire community through the mud, and continue to do so.


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