On Sunday night, the Phi Mu National Executive Committee officially suspended Roanoke College’s Phi Mu chapter (Gamma Eta). Â They are suspended for a period lasting for at least four years, and the suspension is effective immediately.
Phi Mu National President Kris Bridges said, “The decision to close a chapter is never easy.Â National and area officers, local volunteers and Phi Mu staff worked with this chapter for a great deal of time, including having a resident consultant based there since last fall.Â Unfortunately, despite this support, the chapter as a whole was not living up to the values of our organization and providing the positive experience that we want our members to have.”
When asked to respond on their recent suspension, the Gamma Eta chapter declined to comment.
Due to the history of events, recent additional violations and the culture of the organization, National Headquarters saw the suspension as the only viable option. Since spring 2009 Gamma Eta has received multiple probations due to “risk management,” and also received a couple academic excellence probations. In 2013 Phi Mu failed the “commitment to excellence” annual evaluation. Their “risk management” probation was extended in August of 2013.
The Director of Public Relations at Roanoke College, Teresa Gereaux, said, “This was a National move. The college has to respect that of course, [but] this was not an action of the college.”
The Phi Mu suspension was a process and decision that has been building up for nearly five years and was not an isolated incident. Gereaux said, “[the suspension] was an action against the group, not an individual stand point.”
Collegiate members of Phi Mu, the Gamma Eta chapter, have been given Alumnae status; however the “pledges”, often referred to as Phis, have been relieved of their duties according to Phi Mu National Headquarters.
In light of the previous problems, Roanoke College had taken many steps to prevent the suspension. The National Chapter had put in place a National HQ representative to live in the Phi Mu housing. Along with this, the college also had put in a residential advisor to keep watch and help uphold organizational standards.
“In my experience this was an unusual step, but in a positive way,” commented Gereaux, “There is a lot of concern around campus to make sure that the girls know they are still part of Roanoke College and still RC Students.”
Due to the suspension, the current Phi Mu housing on the second floor of Chesapeake, is no longer recognized as Greek housing, but is now available as “regular” housing. Roanoke Residence Life and Housing are working with the alumnae of the Gamma Eta chapter who no longer wish to be housed in the space for the remainder of this year.
Next year’s housing selection has already passed and the college is aware and did know this would happen before hand. Res Life is discussing if the females residing there now will have the option to live there next year, and if they have decided not to, Roanoke is trying to match them up with available spaces in on-campus housing.
Phi Mu National Headquarters notified Alumni and parents of the recent suspension with an explanation and the process of the decision.
“The college has been working with both [the Gamma Eta] chapter and Nationals on trying to work to avoid this situation. It is unfortunate that that couldn’t be avoided even though many efforts were made,” said Gereaux.