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What Does It Mean When a Sorority Chapter Is Suspended?

by Van Thompson

Suspension is a serious punishment that often occurs when a sorority puts someone in danger or routinely breaks university rules. Each school establishes its own criteria for suspension, and the length of suspension and the process of reinstatement vary from school to school. However, at most schools a suspended sorority will not be able to participate in Greek life, receive any funding or recruit new members.

Reasons for Suspension

Breaking minor rules generally won't result in a suspension. At most schools, suspended sororities are groups with a long history of ignoring the school's administration or breaking campus rules. However, sororities that commit acts of violence or place students in danger may be suspended after one infraction. The University of Texas at El Paso's anti-hazing policy, for example, outlines severe penalties -- including prosecution -- for hazing and may suspend or expel a sorority that engages in the practice. Drug use, providing alcohol to minors, dangerous parties or vandalism also increase a sorority's likelihood of being suspended.

Process of Suspension

The suspension process varies from school to school, but most schools institute formal proceedings at which a sorority can present evidence for a possible appeal. If the sorority is suspended, the school may establish specific conditions under which the sorority can be reinstated. At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, for example, the school establishes probation guidelines for sororities and other groups that have been suspended, depending upon the offense, and the sorority must prove that the members have taken steps to prevent the offense from happening again. Sororities that don't meet these guidelines can be permanently expelled from Greek life at that school.

Effects of Suspension

Suspended sororities are usually not allowed to recruit any new members or participate in rush. They're also ineligible for funding and may not sponsor activities. Members who sit on boards that govern Greek life or activities might not be able to attend these committee meetings anymore. The length of suspension varies from school to school. At the University of Texas at El Paso, for example, sororities can be suspended for one semester or one year depending upon the severity of the infraction.

Reinstatement

Sororities generally have to meet certain criteria to be reinstated, and the criteria are usually related to the incident that gave rise to the suspension. A sorority with a history of hazing, for example, might have to develop an anti-hazing policy and indicate to the school how it will prevent hazing in the future. Some suspended sororities may remain closely supervised for a semester or two after they are reinstated and in some cases might have to meet regularly with a school administrator to ensure they are meeting all the requirements for being in good standing.

About the Author

Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.

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