The University of Michigan Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity has been suspended by its national office and its members may face criminal investigation after its members were accused of causing $50,000 in damage at a ski resort last weekend. The pictures of the damage at the Treetops Resort are astonishing and the incident raises the question of whether students involved in potential criminal mischief should be expelled from the school for such extracurricular conduct.
The Treetop Resort is located in Gaylord, Michigan some 200 miles north of Ann Arbor.
The resort had to call police to have the 120 fraternity and sorority members escorted off the property. The students allegedly pulled down ceiling tiles, broken furniture and windows, and trashed walls and carpets.
Sigma Alpha Mu President Michigan chapter President Joshua Kaplan issued a statement that the fraternity was “embarrassed and ashamed of the behavior” of some of its members. Sigma Alpha Mu (ΣΑΜ), also known as “Sammy”, was originally an all-Jewish fraternity founded at the City College of New York in 1909. It has initiated more than 63,000 members and has more than 120 active fraternities across the United States and Canada. Ironically, it was formed by Jewish members of the sophomore class at the College of the City of New York who were embarrassed by “lowly freshmen”. They chose the Greek Letters “Kappa Phi Omega” to symbolize the words “Cosmic Fraternal Order.”
The lofty image was not on display at the Treetop Resort. I cannot imagine students could engage in such destruction and not fear criminal or academic repercussions. Worse yet, members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity; Alpha Phi sorority, Chi Psi fraternity and Delta Gamma sorority damaged condominiums at another resort.
The question is how a school should respond to such conduct outside of campus. This was a function linked to the school and has embarrassed not just the fraternity but the university. The student manual contains the following violation and definition.
Stealing, vandalizing, damaging, destroying, or defacing University property or the property of others
Steal: to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice
Vandalism: willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property
Damage: loss or harm resulting from injury to person, property, or reputation
Destroy: to ruin the structure, organic existence, or condition of : to ruin as if by tearing to shreds
Deface: to mar the appearance of : injure by effacing significant details
However, this was not university property and was not on campus. Yet, the rules contains this notice in Section V:
Behavior which occurs in the city of Ann Arbor, on University controlled property, or at University sponsored events/programs may violate the Statement. Behavior which occurs outside the city of Ann Arbor or outside University controlled property may violate the Statement only if the behavior poses an obvious and serious threat or harm to any member(s) of the University community.
The incident obviously involved a threat to other members of the university community in some sense but it was 200 miles removed from the campus.
What do you think the university should do beyond suspending the fraternity.