Lack of due process at UCF raises concerns

'Reaffirmation hearings' to reinstate Greek chapters begin Monday

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ORLANDO, Fla. - The University of Central Florida's decision to punish all of its 48 fraternities and sororities in the wake of several hazing scandals is causing concern with the association representing 350,000 fraternity members across the United States and Canada.

The North-American Interfraternity Conference is concerned with UCF's reaction to the hazing scandals and Greek alcohol issues, which involved "no due process" or hearings before restricting activities of all its Greek organizations -- the majority of which are not even accused of wrongdoing.

"Frankly, I think that's unfair to those groups," NIC President and CEO Peter Smithhisler told Local 6, adding that he wants to ensure UCF's policies are equitably applied among all its different campus organizations.

Smithhisler said he would have preferred for the university to have reached out to his organization prior to implementing the unprecedented action at UCF to halt Greek life activities.

He said his organization could have been a resource to help UCF address the issues it may have identified on campus.

"It's important that as partners, we are engaged in this conversation directly and authentically," Smithhisler said, adding that the NIC has since reached out to UCF and suggested some alternatives to the action UCF has taken.

PDF: UCF - NIC Final Report 2007

Smithhisler also said that when the fraternity experience is done right, there's no other leadership experience on a college campus that can match it.

He wants to ensure UCF students have the opportunity to participate in that premium leadership experience and wants to work with UCF to make that happen.

A fraternal law expert previously told Local 6 he believed UCF's actions against innocent organizations were "unfair and unconstitutional."

But it's unclear whether the NIC or any individual fraternity is considering pursuing legal action against UCF for its decision.

A UCF spokesman on Friday said he was unaware of any letters sent to UCF questioning the legality of its actions, but pointed out that several officials who could have received such letters were out of the office, so he would have to check with them on Monday.

Also on Monday, "reaffirmation hearings" will be conducted by a newly formed UCF committee which was created to hear presentations by Greek organizations hoping to be reinstated.

UCF said those groups determined to meet its values-based standards would see activities resume in April.

Despite the criticism UCF has received, records released by UCF show there is also some support among those in the higher education field for its unorthodox move to tackle the issues which are facing universities across the country.

In any event, UCF is standing by its decision.

"We are focused on preventing alcohol abuse and hazing," UCF spokesman Chad Binette told Local 6. "We are confident our efforts will strengthen our Greek community."

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