Appalachian State University has removed its official recognition of the Omicron Alpha chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, and the organization is barred from the campus until the fall of 2023, university officials say.
The fraternity had applied for reinstatement on April 6 after the Appalachian State initially suspended the chapter in February 2017, according to news reports. The university took that action because it determined that the fraternity violated ASU policies.
The university rejected its application and removed its recognition of the fraternity on May 8 because ASU officials had concerns about TKE’s “persistent pattern” of violating university policies while the fraternity was suspended,” said Megan Hayes, an ASU spokeswoman.
The chapter had 35 members in the fall of 2016, a university document says. It’s unclear how many members were in the fraternity this year when ASU took its action against them.
The chapter’s alumni association has 789 members, according to the fraternity’s website.
Jeff Cathey, Appalachian State’s director of student engagement and leadership, outlined his reasons for denying TKE’s application for reinstatement and taking away its university recognition in his letter dated May 6 to a TKE official at its national headquarters in Indianapolis.
While the fraternity was suspended, Cathey learned about problematic social media posts regarding the fraternity; reports of police responding to calls at the residential address of chapter members; and referral of several chapter members to ASU student conduct proceedings, according to his letter.
Those behaviors by fraternity members violated the university policy that requires fraternities to follow its rules when they have been suspended, Cathey wrote.
“Regardless of specifics of individual concerns, these instances indicate a persisting pattern sufficient to convince me that Tau Kappa Epsilon does not currently have a culture that is compatible with our policy,” Cathey wrote in the letter.
“I will not consider a petition for expansion until a time at which all currently initiated members have moved on from ASU and activity under the identity of Tau Kappa chapter has truly ceased for a sufficient period to demonstrate a true break from the current chapter culture,” Cathey wrote. “I regret that a longstanding pattern of troubling behavior of this chapter Tau Kappa Epsilon has brought us to this point.”
Alex Baker, a spokesman at the national headquarters of Tau Kappa Epsilon in Indianapolis, couldn’t be reached Thursday to comment about the matter.
Leto Copeley, a Durham attorney for the family of a former Appalachian State student, said that the university’s action against the fraternity wasn’t related to any accusation of hazing involving the student.
However, the student, whom Copeley didn’t identify, made a complaint to ASU about the fraternity, Copeley said. No lawsuit was filed regarding the student’s complaint involving the fraternity, she said.
“Ours is not the only complaint,” Copeley said.
Copeley declined to further discuss the matter.
Copeley released a statement last week in which she criticized Tau Kappa Epsilon for its behavior in Boone.
“Unfortunately, this fraternity decided its members could follow their own set of rules, regardless of the consequences,” Copeley said. “Not a single one of the events that caused TKE to lose its recognition would have occurred had TKE members taken the original suspension seriously.
“Our clients are pleased that Appalachian State took this action to protect its students from further unlawful behavior,” Copeley said.