Buggy loses a pillar: PiKA kicked off campus

Aw crap.  It was announced this afternoon that PiKA’s charter has been revoked by the school CMU chapter will not be recognized for at least four years. Losing PiKA from campus is obviously a huge loss to the greek community and to the broader social community at CMU in which they played a consistently central role.

Losing PiKA from buggy is devastating.  As they proudly and frequently pointed out, PiKA is (by far) the winningest organization in the history of buggy.  Their 27 men’s and 11 women’s championships tower over the historical competition.  Their presence at the top of the leader board has been a constant throughout the history of the sport and their consistency has played a large role in the stability of our race across its 91 year history.  

PiKA’s exit from buggy is just the latest and most painful example of a stark trend in which fraternities at CMU are an increasingly endangered species.  Since raceday 2001 DU, DTD, PhiKap, KDR, and now PiKA were suspended or removed from campus, taking their buggy teams off the course as they went.  Of course, each of these decisions is a complicated combination of factors we’re not directly privy to.  Surely each involves mistakes made by the houses, aggressive enforcement by the school, and some unfortunate situations.  The overall trend though, is clear.  The school is not worried about losing greek organizations if they stray outside the lines.

In a year that saw all 6 men’s trophies go to independents, it hurts to lose the strongest greek competitor in the race.  Buggy was started by the fraternities and its strength derives from the diversity of teams competing. A further consolidation towards the big independents is not healthy for the sport.

As announced by the IFC:

In the interest of transparency with the Greek community, we inform
you that today, April 27th, 2011, the University Committee on
Discipline rendered a decision for the Beta Sigma Chapter of Pi Kappa
Alpha.  Based on a hearing relating to an incident in February of this
year, the UDC has ruled to revoke University recognition of the
Chapter for no less than four years. At this time, individuals living
within the 1079 facility will be required to vacate by May 16th, 2011.
No official decision has been made regarding 1079 Morewood Avenue.

Currently, the ability to appeal is still viable.  If an appeal is
submitted, the outcome of that decision will be made available to the
broader community as soon as is convenient.

The announcement leaves two glimmers of hope alive, first that there is still the option to appeal.  I think that the buggy community would resoundingly support PiKA if they choose to appeal the decision.  They are a positive and important player in one of the school’s most cherished traditions.  Heck, they even let me take pictures of their buggies these days.  Second, the charter is revoked house is kicked off for 4 years which is an infinite span in the college timescale, but not an unrecoverable one for an organization with the historical depth that PiKA has.  Here’s to PiKA making amends with the school as gracefully as they can manage, keeping their history intact and continuous however they can, and getting back into buggy as soon as possible.

Update (June): PiKA has salvaged some of their standing with the university and will remain a recognized organization.  They will lose their house for at least 3 years, but can remain a group.  This is different than KDR’s situation which did not allow them to organize their members and participate in campus activities.  There is no guarantee that PiKA will make it back into buggy this year, but it’s now possible.

Comments on this post have been closed, but further discussion can be found in this thread in the forum.

25 thoughts on “Buggy loses a pillar: PiKA kicked off campus”

  • There was a lot of impropriety in the UDC process, more than there usually is when it comes to Greek cases. There is an appeal that will happen in the next week or two.

  • By the way, I don’t believe you have the charter situation correct. A charter is issued by the national fraternity organization which recognizes a chapter as part of the national group. The university has chosen to not recognize PiKA as a CMU group and can thus remove them from their property. However, and this is the strange part, the PiKA national has NOT revoked their charter. They are still a chapter in good standing with the national fraternity. CMU has not, in recent history, kicked a fraternity off campus that still had a charter. I had a discussion with the president of the house and we weren’t sure about PhiKap or KDR, we think one of those may have still had a charter. But the rest lost their charter from their national group, then CMU kicked them off.

    Seems like CMU is getting a bit more aggressive.


  • JustAnotherGreek says:

    After what happened last year with PIKA & the University did nothing to them, it’s about time they stopped letting the fact PIKA has a huge alumni group that gives a lof of money let them skate. Their actions have been reckless and outrageous. If they did not have the financial network attach to the university and the influence on the Greek cCounsel & board this would have & should have happened last year.

  • Nik will probably come in here at some point and clarify a whole bunch of KDR stuff, but KDR national would never get rid of us. CMU did, so the situation is very similar to that of Pika. I believe we were the first of the recent batch of fraternities to have this be the case.

    • Like PiKA, KDR still has it’s charter as well. The charter revocation is decided by the National Fraternity, not by the University. In most cases, the National Fraternity will revoke a charter on the recommendation of the University, typically upon the removal of recognition from IFC or it’s equivalent. In this case, both PiKA and KDR’s National, either realizing the harshness of CMU’s decision or the value of a chapter at CMU, decided to keep the charter in place.

      With that said, the fact they still have their charter has very little value. IFC has a new and very stringent recolonization policy in place, one that states that any chapter who has been removed for disciplinary reasons must be gone for a minimum of four years. It also states that after the four years, the organization can *apply* for recolonization, but they will not be automatically granted the request; instead, they will be weighed against other organizations who want to colonize, and then slotted into an academic year. The reasoning behind this is that recolonization is an uphill climb, and with a finite number of resources within Student Life, there is a better chance of success with only one organization attempting to colonize in a given year.

      This has been a source of very large concern for KDR, as the sanctions of our suspension was two years and not four, which was agreed upon in 2009. Now, two years later – when we should be returning – we’re being told that the new policy is four years, despite that not being the terms we agreed to. Even then, we have to petition and get slotted to come back.

      I wish PiKA the best, because it is not a fun situation and if I’m being frank, CMU holds all of the cards.

  • If they are kicked off campus, but the charter is still intact, are they necessarily out of buggy? Or is it because if CMU doesn’t recognize them then Sweepstakes can’t recognize them either?
    I realize buggy is probably not a big deal over there right now given the ramifications for the house as a whole.

    • I suspect Student Life will tell them what they told us at KDR, which is that any remote inkling of us continuing to function as an organization will have severe ramifications, in that we’ll never be allowed back.

      We had to twice explain to them that Fringe wasn’t a KDR proxy and that we weren’t using them as a continuation of our organization. It was easily the most asinine meeting I’ve ever been a part of. The risk of never coming back is far too great for the Alumni to ever allow the actives to form an independent group.

  • Ian McCullough says:

    I can’t comment factually on how things might be different today — my general feeling is that things are far worse for CMU Greeks today — but when I was a Greek president (1998-9 I think) I represented my house before a UDC proceeding and against threatened, but never actually filed, criminal charges. CMU has never pretended that UDC is a ‘court of law’ or anything with guidelines like our country’s legal system, but the mere presence of a trial code connotes an aspiration toward fairness that I found completely absent throughout. Back then at least, fairness and reasonability at UDC were a complete joke, as was any subsequent opportunity to appeal. It was certainly my impression that everyone involved (in power) had already mind made up their mind before the disciplinary proceedings even began.

    Assuming their position has merit, I wish PiKA, especially being one of the only four original leaseholders left on the quad, all the luck in the world fighting this decision.

  • Oh man, best of luck to PiKA. Somehow, from the outside, PiKA, KDR, and SigEp always seemed to be the “responsible” houses. Also, a 4 year ban seems to me like punishment without education – the brothers who’ve learned anything this episode will be long gone without the chance to pass on the “uh, don’t do what we did” lesson to their juniors. Wouldn’t that be better for the future Pikes and the university? They wouldn’t be the winningest organization in Sweepstakes if they weren’t good at learning from their mistakes.

    I don’t suppose there’s a way for PiKA’s competition to try to put in a good word for them, or if that would even be helpful?

    And from a practical point, do the remaining teams have the manpower to take over the ~20% of work that PiKA was doing, or is it going to mean cutting back on something?

    • A four year ban is exactly what it sounds like, and a punishment exactly fitting the situation – the university covering it’s now more well-endowed ass from liability concerns. Some things happened that I honestly could not blame the members of PiKA for, and the answer should not be to simply remove them as an organization. But the university likely sees it as ‘Well, if another accident happens next year, are we negligent for letting it go that far?’.

      It’s dumb and I hate to see it. If there was a fraternity I would like to see reform as an independent and keep things together in at least some form (and with these insane new rules – four years before possibility of maybe reforming? – the threat of not coming ever back may be downright irrelevant), it’s them. Their reputation was even starting to improve among some of the other orgs…

  • At this rate it’s only a mater of time before AEPi is the coolest frat on campus. Seriously though, CMU is on the warpath and only the boy scoutiest of frats will survive. Oddly enough those frats don’t seem to care much for buggy.

    • Actually Paul, I think that in the event that AEPi becomes the last fraternity on campus, the title of coolest frat would default to the coolest independent, student club, or particularly ugly sorority on campus.

  • So. To whom would one address a letter to if one were distressed by this blow to the Carnegie Mellon experience?

    • According to UDC rules (which, lets be fair, aren’t really followed) the appeal goes to Pres. Cohen. So I would assume one would write him.

      Not just a blow to the CMU experience but a distressing, obvious trend of the administration against the Greek community in favor of independents in everything.

      • Don’t be so dramatic, it’s not like Cohen gives a damn who wins buggy and is undermining frats so independents win, unless of course SDC used their infinite money to bribe him. At the end of the day the university doesn’t like partying and the other fun parts of college. Given that frats are on campus and frat life has a party reputation, of course the university is going to clamp down. It’s not right and it detracts from the fun, but it’s the current mind set. That’s why no one ever talks about AEPi going any where.

        • I’m not talking about independents in the world of buggy, I’m talking about in general. It’s pretty clear from a lot of different interactions, this not being the least amongst them, that the administration really has no interest in keeping Greek orgs around compared to other social orgs that are non-Greek.

  • RealisticGreek says:

    Listen, that’s all well and good that Pika is a pillar of the buggy community… But using buggy as an excuse to support them for their recent transgressions is completly stupid… As a greek I am sad to see another fraternity get the boot off campus, but in the end, what else do you want the university to do? They had two horrific incidents, and quite frankly deserved what they got…

    That being said, I truly hope that they are able to re-establish themselves in a few years and come back as strong as ever… But for right now, they deserve to be gone.

    • I don’t know the specifics of what PiKA did, and frankly, I don’t want to know. I see three issues here:

      1.) Proportionality
      Again, I don’t know the specifics, but the punishment should fit the crime. I think one could argue that this wasn’t the case for KDR and the UDC does not have a good reputation in this area.

      2.) Fairness of the proceedings
      Everyone who I hear from who has been in a situation like this (regardless of outcome) with the university says the same thing: The decision was made before the proceedings began. I don’t know if that is true or not, and I’m sure there is a lot of bitterness on the defendants’ part, but it is definitely contributing to the sentiment that CMU is trying to kill off the fraternities by attrition. I’m sure the alumni of these fraternities aren’t too happy with their chapters, but may be even angrier at the school.

      3.) Why does this keep happening?
      People throwing up on each other doesn’t bother me (as long as it isn’t on me), but irreversibly bad outcomes are coming from fraternity behavior. I remember a kid (not a student) died at PiLam over Christmas break when I was a sophomore. They (rightfully) lost their recognition, eventually their charter, and disappeared from CMU. The reputation of ATO as a den of iniquity is legendary. Regardless of what offenses are deserving of what censure isn’t the point. The university is setting a standard (fairly or not) that frats are systematically not living up to. It seems to me that the university is complicit in this behavior by their reactionary stance. Frats are a rich part of the CMU tradition — PiKA has been at CMU over twice as long as H&SS has existed. If the university had any serious interest in maintaining that, they would change the environment to one where the frats had some hope of not failing the community standard the school wants to enforce.

      I will give as a purely hypothetical example (NOT A SERIOUS SUGGESTION): Level the quad and put up a dorm-style apartment building. Give each fraternity or sorority a part of the building, multiple floors if they can fill them. Have common areas for parties and meetings and such. Create space to build booth, buggy garages, a dance studio for Greek Sing or what ever else. The lack of privacy would probably stem the flow of alcohol and other dangerous behavior, at least somewhat. Is the loss of freedom worth the higher likelihood of keeping your charter? Depends on the organization. The accommodations could be a lot nicer!

      What I’m trying to say is that the current system isn’t working for the students nor for the school. Something has to change or there won’t be any fraternities left. Buggy aside, that seems like a bad thing. Who’s going to build the next Batman-themed booth?!

  • what did you expect the punishment to be after you put the last two incidents together. the hammer was deserved in this case.

    • Expected, Part 2 says:

      I couldn’t agree more. When you consider that PiKA and KDR will likely serve the same time, it becomes even more of a laughable joke. If KDR got four years, PiKA deserves four hundred.

  • Regardless of personal opinion, this is a great loss to the Buggy community and I know I for one will miss competing against a team that I have come to greatly respect for the role they’ve played in the history of this sport and the passion and dedication they’ve put into it. I know that there are Pikes that love Buggy as much as I do and I hope that they can still find a way to participate.

    Take your nonconstructive, caps-locked comments back to collegeacb, that is not what this community is about.

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