Texas State outlines steps to reinstate Greek activity after pledge’s death


SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Almost three months after fraternity and sorority activities were suspended at Texas State University in San Marcos, the school has outlined steps the groups can take to return to normal operations.

The university’s president took the step shortly after Phi Kappa Psi fraternity pledge Matthew Ellis died in an off-campus apartment. Emergency crews found him unresponsive at the scene at 1651 Post Road, and he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Matthew Ellis died on Nov. 13, 2017 after a fraternity event. (Courtesy: Ellis Family)

President Denise Trauth said at the time he had attended an off-campus social event hosted by members of the fraternity. Authorities haven’t released an official cause of death, but say alcohol may have been a factor.

Texas State University’s vice president, along with a 24-member Greek Affairs Advisory Task Force, was tasked with reviewing the system and culture of Greek life at the school, as well as coming up with steps for fraternities and sororities to be reinstated. They developed eight steps the groups must accomplish: 

  1. Introduction to Greek Life & Recruitment: Each Greek Council must develop a Potential New Member Orientation, while current members must attend recruitment training. The trainings must be completed by May 1, with more to follow in the 2018-2019 school year.
  2. New Member Education: Each chapter needs to develop and submit a new member education plan outlining what happens after initiation
  3. Risk Reduction Events, Monitoring and Training: Each chapter must create a risk reduction plan each year and agree to participate in training. At least 75 percent of each chapter’s members must attend the training before an event, and events have to be held within 100 miles of San Marcos. Additionally, the chapter’s grade point average for the previous semester will determine how many events they can hold and how many can involve alcohol.
  4. Chapter/Graduate Adviser & Faculty/Staff Adviser Certification: All advisers must complete university certification training, which must be renewed every two years. Part of the training will include a section “on how to ‘re-educate’ alumni members about appropriate behavior and university expectations during their interactions with the undergraduate members of their respective Greek organization.
  5. The Chapter Advancement & Awards Program: Each chapter must participate in this program by submitting data about its members, including community service hours and average GPA, and has to meet a minimum score to remain active.
  6. Leadership Development: Texas State will host an annual leadership training, and at least 75 percent of chapter members must complete leadership training.
  7. Fraternity/Sorority Chapter Reinstatement on the Texas State Campus: Chapter presidents and advisers must meet with Greek Affairs staff to discuss the changes by March 30. Then, the chapters can begin training during the spring 2018 semester.
  8. Individual Member Recommitment to Fraternity & Sorority Programming Document: Each member must recommit to their fraternity or sorority and sign a document agreeing to the steps the group must take to regain their active status. They also must affirm their commitment to ending substance and alcohol abuse, hazing and sexual misconduct.

“I’m sorry if they feel like it’s a punishment, but it’s not. It’s something we know we need to do to make sure that our system is one of the best in the country and that we’re keeping our students safe and we’re retaining them and we’re graduating them,” said Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Joanne Smith.

Fraternities and sororities will be able to begin the recommitment process after March 31 and must complete it by Sept. 1 in order to regain their active status.

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