Pi Kappa Alpha Chapter and its leaders receive summary suspensions

August 23, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State has summarily suspended Pi Kappa Alpha at University Park for hosting a large social gathering on Aug. 22 in violation of Penn State’s expectations. Penn State’s monitors observed approximately 70 students were in attendance, including at least three dozen individuals who were not residents of the house. Penn State also has summarily suspended those chapter executives who refused to comply with the directives of the University monitors. The University will proceed with conduct investigations to determine what actions it will ultimately take, against the organization and/or its members.

"We're all in this together, so when one of us, or a group, behaves in ways that threaten all of us, we must act, and we must act quickly," said Damon Sims, Penn State vice president for Student Affairs. "Social gatherings are among the very best ways to spread the virus, and refusing to comply with the public health mandates, even when directed to do so by University officials, will not be tolerated."

Precautionary Testing 

As a precautionary measure, Penn State has required all members of the Pi Kappa Alpha house to participate in testing today (Sunday, Aug. 23) to determine whether individuals participating in the large gathering may have been exposed to COVID-19. Because the gathering involved students who are not members of the chapter, Penn State encourages other students who may have attended to be tested as well. 

Mandatory testing for the fraternity members will occur at the COVID-19 Testing Tent outside of the Biobehavioral Health Building on the HUB lawn side of the building. Students have been contacted directly regarding testing times (open Aug. 23 until 6 p.m.) and details (bring cell phone and student ID; do not eat or drink anything 30 minutes prior to the test; wear a mask and be prepared to stay physically distant from any other individuals). Failure to follow this directive may result in additional conduct sanctions.

Penn State has implemented precautionary testing following another recent event that has been reported. The University is establishing a pop-up testing station outside of the East Halls complex, where a gathering occurred a few nights ago. The University is encouraging any resident of East Halls, any students who may have been at that gathering, or any student who is concerned about potential exposure, to be tested.

According to Sims, no disciplinary action will be initiated against students who participated in the East Halls gathering or the Pi Kappa Alpha party who submit to the supplementary testing. The purpose is to help rule out possible exposure to the virus for them or others.  

Follow-Up Proceedings

Penn State has initiated student conduct proceedings for executives of Pi Kappa Alpha responsible for the gathering. The University has clearly stated the consequences for significant violations of University expectations may, or are likely to, include suspension or expulsion from the University. Recognized student organizations also may lose privileges or face loss of University recognition for failure to comply.

Related to the gathering at East Halls, while the University has not yet identified students who participated in the impromptu gathering, which was dispersed, the conduct process has begun involving a student who may have helped initiate the gathering.

Finally, Penn State is working in cooperation with local law enforcement and municipal authorities to address these off-campus issues as quickly and strongly as possible, given the importance of cooperative efforts. 

"Among the last things I want to do is suspend students or student organizations," said Sims. "But the very last thing I want to do is allow a small subset of our University population to send all of us home because it chose to ignore the requirements each of us must abide, and we will do all we reasonably can to avoid that outcome."

All members of the Penn State community can read about Penn State’s multi-layered approach for minimizing the spread of the virus, as well as required personal safety practices, at https://virusinfo.psu.edu/back-to-state. The latest information about the University’s response to the coronavirus pandemic is available at virusinfo.psu.edu. The site will be updated regularly with critical information and links to key resources.

Last Updated September 22, 2020