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Faculty pens letter against fraternity Phi Omega Sigma

A letter signed by at least 48 faculty members is calling for the removal of the fraternity’s charter

Caren Holmes
Staff Writer

At least 48 members of The College of Wooster faculty have signed a letter addressed to President Bolton, Dean Brown and Campus Council demanding the permanent revocation of the Phi Omega Sigma fraternity, which will undergo a standard charter review process through Campus Council in the coming weeks.

The letter cites instances of drugging, sexual assault and consistent disregard for the Wooster Ethic and academic policy as reasons for the proposed permanent disbandment of the organization from the College.

Professor Burch of the French and Francophone studies department led the process of drafting the letter.

According to Burch, the documented behavior of the fraternity was discussed at length during the Feb. 6 faculty meeting where faculty in attendance articulated their concerns about the continued presence of the organization on campus.

“Given the known links between drugged alcohol at parties/bars and sexual assault, many faculty members were surprised and dismayed to learn through Dean Brown’s January 19, 2017 email that Phi Omega Sigma’s suspension had been lifted in October 2016,” Burch said.

She goes on to explain that faculty “were also disturbed by the President of the fraternity’s remarks published in the Voice on January 27th. As our letter states, his words demonstrated a complete lack of concern, remorse, or sense of responsibility for these events.”

When asked for comment on this portion of the letter, President of Phi Omega Sigma, Cole Buehler ’17 explained, “We are very sympathetic towards anyone who is a victim of anything.”

Burch explained that faculty are continuing to collect signatures before presenting the final version to the Campus Council on Feb. 23. Buehler suggested that members of the campus community are “misinformed” about the Omega organization. He explains, “I would not be a part of this group, let alone the president, if the statements in their petition were accurate.”

Buehler expressed his concerns about the Campus Council charter review process.

“I hope Campus Council acknowledges the drastic changes we have made this year in our constitution, leadership, governance, bylaws and procedures,” said Buehler.

“My biggest concern right now is that this process will not be fair. It seems as if some individuals we have never met among Campus Council already have a fixated opinion through rumors [and] stories,” added Buehler.

In addition to the faculty letter, a separate piece of evidence filed in relation to the Phi Omega Sigma fraternity was introduced to Campus Council during the Feb. 16 meeting.

Campus Council at-Large Representative Jack Johanning ’17 explained during the meeting, “There’s a video [of] a chant going on outside on the residential quad that contains homophobic slurs and misogynistic epithets relevant to the Omega organization.”

After the evidence was introduced, a member of the administration suggested that they could not be certain that this video depicted members of the Omega fraternity due to the video quality.

However, Secretary of the College Angela Johnston stated, “There’s a preponderance of evidence that this is part of their annual ritual, that should be included in this information to be reviewed.”

The charter review will take place Thursday, Feb. 23 at Campus Council’s weekly meeting, where members are expected to vote on whether or not Phi Omega Sigma’s charter will be renewed.

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