The Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity has been cleared of transgression by the university for its involvement with a party where a student was hospitalized for alcohol poisoning, but the chapter remains under investigation by its nationals, according to the Phi Sigma Kappa Grand Chapter executive director.
Over a month after the Oct. 4 incident involving freshman Kai Gray, Michael Carey, executive director, said the local chapter is still being investigated by nationals. An informal investigation conducted by Don Willis, Student Engagement Director at Missouri Western, found that the party was hosted at a private residence and was not associated with any fraternity.
Gene Ryals, president of the Missouri Western Phi Sigma Kappa chapter, agrees that Gray was at a party being hosted at Derrick Mcpherson’s, Vice President of the fraternity.
“It was not a Phi Sigma Kappa party,” Ryals said. “There were all of us there and, like I said before, we were celebrating an alumni’s birthday.”
Ryals stated that the party was not associated with the fraternity because official paperwork to sanction the party had not been filled out, and therefore, not associated with the school.
However, the presence of all of the Phi Sigma Kappa members and it’s location at the vice president’s residence would seem to classify as a fraternity party, according to the national guidelines.
The Phi Sigma Kappa grand chapter risk management policies delineate that any event “endorsed by the chapter, or in any event an observer would associate with a fraternity must be in compliance with any and all applicable laws of the state, province, county, city and institution of higher education….”
“Phi Sigma Kappa does not have a definitive number that determines an event be a Phi Sigma Kappa event,” Carey said. “We look at several factors, not just numbers of members attending an event.”
Ryals seems to contradict Carey in saying that the number of people does have an effect on the classification of the event.
“[A sanctioned party] would consist of more than half the chapter being there, it would consist of filling out paperwork and getting a venue, not in a house that somebody rents,” Ryals said.
If it is considered a Phi Sigma Kappa event, it would appear to be classified as an open party.
“An ‘open’ party is any party where there is unrestricted access to alcohol is permitted/allowed,” Carey said. “Additionally, I would include an event
that does not have a guest list.”
Attendees at the party have confirmed that there was no guest list and Gray, a minor, admitted to drinking at the residence.
Open parties are prohibited on the university level and at the national chapter level.
The eleventh section of the national chapter risk management policies statement outline, “The causing or contributing to the intoxication of any person…under the legal drinking age or under the influence of alcohol, and/or violation of an statue, ordinance, or regulation relating to the sale, gift, distribution, or use of alcoholic beverages, shall be viewed as a violation of the Grand Chapter Risk Management Policies.”
The university’s own risk management policies echo the same.
“Open parties, meaning those with unrestricted access by non-members of the organization, without specific invitation, where alcohol is present, shall be forbidden.
The national chapter made no official comment on this incident or the investigation.