West Virginia University: Fraternities Punished Without a Semblance of Due Process


West Virginia University

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Case Overview

Five fraternities at the West Virginia University were sanctioned by the university without receiving notice of the alleged misconduct or hearings to confront the allegations. In 2018, a WVU committee reviewed the “judicial history” of each chapter, with the goal of imposing changes to Greek organizations in order to improve fraternity and sorority life at WVU. This judicial history included long-resolved incidents as far back as 2014, as well as charges for which the groups had previously been cleared. In June 2018, the Kappa Alpha Order, Theta Chi, Alpha Sigma Phi, Phi Sigma Kappa, and Sigma Chi fraternity chapters received letters from WVU detailing punishments for the groups ranging from suspensions and loss of official university recognition to mandatory educational programming. FIRE wrote WVU on December 7, reminding the university that its policies and constitutional due process require that it provide notice and an opportunity to be heard prior to punishment. 

WVU responded to FIRE on December 21, claiming that the process used to punish the fraternities was “non-disciplinary,” obviating the need for due process. FIRE wrote a second letter on January 16, 2019, pushing back against WVU’s mischaracterization. WVU responded on January 24, reaffirming its disagreement with FIRE’s analysis.