The Daily Gamecock

Lambda Chi Alpha national fraternity guts USC chapter

Headquarters representatives evict 22 members from Greek Village house, remove 54 members total

Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity's national headquarters removed 54 members from its USC chapter Sunday morning, evicting 22 of them from their Greek Village house with less than six hours of notice, according to several members of the chapter. The verdicts gutted the chapter, removed all of the officers and left only five initiated members and 15 associate members who had not yet been initiated due to last week's suspension on allegations of hazing.

The fraternity's national headquarters sent representatives to the chapter, who, along with the chapter's alumni corporation, performed a membership review in which they evaluated each member based on the results of a full-chapter drug test, university judicial records, grades, due payments and one-on-one interviews.

The officials brought five police officers with them to the fraternity's house for an 11 a.m. meeting in which the results of the review were distributed. There, members were notified by individually addressed letters of their consequential status — active, censured, suspended or expelled — and given instructions on how to appeal their verdicts if they wished. Some police officers remained afterward, fraternity members said, presumably to ensure that no damage came to the house when members heard the news.

"[The national fraternity] handled it according to protocol and procedure," said former chapter president David Corso. "They have rules in place that allow them to act as they do. Hopefully that will allow Lambda Chi Alpha to continue to thrive as a national and international organization."

Corso, who resigned as president last week, said expelled members living in the house were told to find somewhere else to sleep Sunday night. National officials said former house residents would be given a full 48 hours this week to return, pack their belongings and vacate the premises. The house is not owned by the university; it stands under the jurisdiction of Lambda Chi Alpha's alumni corporation.

A Monday afternoon release from a Lambda Chi Alpha national official said — and Jerry Brewer, USC's longtime associate vice president of student affairs, confirmed — that members who were removed from the chapter house were offered alternative housing options by university officials.

The interviews, according to Corso, focused in large part on events that occurred during the previous weeks, when the chapter was alleged to have hazed its associate members.

Corso wouldn't comment on the allegation, as the investigation is still ongoing. The Daily Gamecock has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the University of South Carolina to discern just what misdeeds the chapter committed; the university had not provided a written reply at press time.

But Corso did acknowledge that the chapter's activities "weren't compliant with the national fraternity's or the university's standards."

"There was nothing abusive, nothing extreme," the fourth-year biomedical engineering student said. "There was a purpose to everything we did; there was always something for the associates to take out of it all."

Corso said he'd resigned due to pressure from the national fraternity after he admitted to not being straightforward with national officials.

"The national fraternity was unsatisfied with our leadership and the reasons and the means behind the ideas we have grown to know," Corso said. "They thought that change was necessary."

The chapter's alumni adviser declined to comment when contacted Sunday afternoon, but Corso said the chapter's alumni corporation "handled the situation in a typical Lambda Chi Alpha manner." Corso added that the long-term effect on the chapter will be based largely on perspective.

"It depends on how you look at it," he said. "To nationals, we were a tumor that had to be excised; they more or less did that. From our standpoint, we were a brotherhood. We were at the largest we'd been in a long while. We had 30 associates in this past class; the fraternity was more organized and more fun. It was a better atmosphere than previous semesters we've had."

In the release, John Holloway, Lambda Chi Alpha's director of chapter services, called the membership review an "extreme process used to save a chapter."

"Lambda Chi Alpha must ensure that the necessary pieces are in place to return a chapter to health," Holloway said in the statement. "The right men must be in place to heal and move forward."

A spokesman for Lambda Chi Alpha's national headquarters promised to answer questions emailed by The Daily Gamecock but had not done so by Monday evening.

Corso said the depleted chapter faces a "bad situation" and said expelled members were trying to make the best out of it.

"It's never going to be like it was again," Corso said. "Good luck to the guys that stay with it. They know why they joined and what it's about."

Editor's note: The reporter was once a member of Lambda Chi Alpha. He dropped his affiliation with the organization during the 2010-11 academic year.


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