Jan. 24 incident update: A message from the President

March 29, 2016 | UToday
By Dr. Sharon L. Gaber



Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

In late January 2016, an incident occurred at an off-campus party that raised fundamental questions about civility, tolerance and acceptance at The University of Toledo — a campus that I believe is much better than this incident suggests.

At this time, The University of Toledo Division of Student Affairs has completed a thorough Student Code of Conduct investigation into that Jan. 24 incident.

I’d like to outline the subsequent facts for you and then talk briefly about where UT goes from here.

After interviews with nearly four-dozen individuals who attended the party, administrative hearings and hearings before a diverse panel of students and UT employees, the University has identified sanctions for the fraternity and six individuals found responsible for violations of the UT Student Code of Conduct.

First, the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity was found responsible for:

• Violating UT’s prohibition against physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment or other conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person, and

• Violating UT’s prohibition against disorderly conduct.

Sanctions for Pi Kappa Phi fraternity include:

• Disciplinary probation until May 31, 2017;

• A prohibition against social events until May 31, 2017;

• A prohibition against the admission of new members until Jan. 1, 2017, marking two semesters that the fraternity will have been unable to admit new members;

• Anti-bullying training for all members; and

• Mandatory alcohol awareness training for all members.

Second, six students went through the Student Code of Conduct process and were found responsible for violating one or both of the following charges:

• Violating UT’s prohibition against physical abuse, verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, harassment or other conduct that threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person; and

• Violating UT’s prohibition against disorderly conduct.

Sanctions for these students include:

• One year of disciplinary probation;

• Alcohol awareness education; and

• 10 to 15 hours of community service.

Any UT student charged with a violation of the Student Code of Conduct is permitted to choose between an administrative hearing and a hearing before a student conduct hearing board.

Where a hearing board was requested, the same specially trained, five-member hearing board of students and employees, which was diverse in both race and gender, heard both the individual student’s case and the fraternity’s case. All found responsible of violating the Student Code of Conduct have the right to appeal the decision.

This is where we are today. UT followed its student conduct process precisely to achieve an impartial assessment of what occurred. I am keenly aware that in an environment heavily clouded by alcohol, intolerable words and phrases may well have been used. The 45 interviews provided conflicting views of what occurred.

I remain incredibly disappointed by the behaviors that have led the UT community to this point.

This situation has pointed out the need for training and understanding that we will continue to work on, embrace and incorporate in our forthcoming diversity plan.

I am also optimistic. In the last few months, hundreds of students, faculty and staff across this University have engaged in candid and challenging conversations led by Dr. Kaye M. Patten, senior vice president for student affairs, and Dr. Willie McKether, special assistant to the president for diversity.

This is why I am confident in this institution’s trajectory. Great universities don’t shy away from difficult conversations. It is because the UT community is engaged in civil but passionate, educated discussions that we will achieve a greater understanding of each other. And that understanding, that empathy — especially in the face of frustration — is what makes The University of Toledo strong.

This incident has justifiably stirred the emotions of many, and I certainly recognize that while this investigation is concluding, conversations about its outcome will continue. Whether on this topic or any other, please know you can always reach out to me at UTPresident@utoledo.edu with your thoughts, suggestions and solutions.

Sincerely,

Sharon L. Gaber, Ph.D.
President
The University of Toledo