Denying Kappa Alpha appeal, Provost seals frat’s two-year housing loss

July 23, 2019, 8:01 p.m.

Student Affairs announced last month that Stanford’s Kappa Alpha (KA) fraternity would be stripped of housing privileges for at least two years after it housed members who did not pay room and board to the University, but the office left the group with one potential recourse: an appeal to Provost Persis Drell. 

That avenue has been exhausted, with Drell upholding the unanimous decision of a panel of three students and two faculty and staff members, ensuring the sanctions will take place beginning in the fall. 

An appeal would only be granted on the basis of “procedural errors” or “new information that was not known at the start of the panel’s review” of findings from an Office of Community Standards (OCS) investigation. Earlier this year, a “procedural flaw” caused the Office of Student Affairs to reverse its decision to revoke fraternity Theta Delta Chi’s (TDX) housing.

In KA’s case, the OCS investigation found that the fraternity had housed members beyond the house’s capacity who did not pay room and board to the University — a practice known as “stuffing.” Beyond the housing ban, KA is also required to compensate the University for the rent owed. 

The housing loss was warranted, Drell wrote in a statement from Student Affairs, by “the premeditated nature of the violation, the scale and scope of the violation (at least $33K, some portion of which we presume was collected by the fraternity, the use of which is entirely undisclosed), the number of individuals who were complicit, and the evidence” that the organization knowingly breached University policy. 

Vice Provost for Student Affairs Susie Brubaker-Cole wrote that Drell had decided to leave housing assignments to the frat’s former residence, 664 Lomita, for the upcoming academic year unchanged due to timing concerns. 

KA President Patrick Gilligan ’20 expressed appreciation that the 59 members of the fraternity assigned to the residence would still be allowed to live there.

“Although our loss of housing is unfortunate and not the outcome that we desired, we acknowledge the wrongdoing of our organization in regards to housing removal and are eager to use this as a learning opportunity for our organization,” he wrote in a statement to The Daily.

In the 2018-19 academic year, the residence will face several restrictions, the Student Affairs announcement said, including a ban on hard alcohol and “KA organizational activities,” and the stipulation that any parties take place indoors with residents only. In the following academic year, members of KA will apply for on-campus housing through The Draw. 

In a potential bright spot for the organization, Brubaker-Cole wrote that the Provost determined that, in considering the chapter’s housing application for the 2021-2022 academic year, “heavy weighting will be given to positive changes in the organization, subject to adjudication of other policy violations currently under investigation and appropriate conduct in the interim.”

KA leaders have developed “a number of important measures to ensure a solid path forward for the organization,” Brubaker-Cole added later.

Student Affairs spokesperson Pat Harris declined to specify the nature of other potential investigations of the fraternity, writing that the University would “not comment at this time about ongoing investigations or conduct processes.”

The announcement also indicated that the University is investigating the prevalence of stuffing on campus. In a statement to The Daily, Harris wrote that “initial findings” from analyzing data from campus partners “indicate that stuffing may occur from time to time to support friends who are having financial difficulties.” Harris encouraged students in such positions to reach out to the Financial Aid Office, and said Stanford would continue to look into the issue.  

“Stanford’s decision does not come lightly and we are aware it can be perceived as an assault on Greek life,” wrote Brubaker-Cole, who expressed support for having 10 Greek houses on campus. “I want to assure you all that I remain steadfast in my commitment to supporting Greek life at Stanford.” 

Including KA, Stanford currently has nine such residences, according to a Residential & Dining Enterprises website. The property at 550 Lasuen, which housed members of Stanford’s Sigma Chi fraternity chapter before it lost its charter in 2018, is the subject of an ongoing legal battle between the University and a group of the fraternity’s alumni.

This article has been corrected to clarify that Drell’s comment refers specifically to the housing loss, not including the penalty involving compensating the University for rent owed.

Contact Charlie Curnin at ccurnin ‘at’

Charlie Curnin '22 is the editor-in-chief of The Stanford Daily. Contact him at eic 'at'

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