Officials deny sorority’s bid after concerns surface

A proposed multi-cultural sorority has been denied after a meeting with the student-run expansion committee that approves or denies new Greek life at Oswego.

Mu Sigma Upsilon was the only sorority to apply for a spot this semester, said Michael J. Paestella, director of Student Involvement. After the sorority filed the application and brought all of the necessary information to the search committee, they were required to give a presentation. The National Office for Sororities also had to present to the committee. It was a long process, and eventually the campus decided to deny the sorority this time around.

"While the committee is reviewing the application, they also do a lot of homework, talking to other campuses where the chapter used to be, where they currently are, looking at their webpage," Paestella said. "The committee made the decision that, this time, it wasn’t a good idea to offer that group expansion to our campus."

The committee had multiple concerns surrounding the proposed sorority.

"The greatest concern by the committee," Paestella said, was that "it created an uncomfortable feeling that our students would be subjected to hazing."

The committee wasn’t convinced that the hazing would not occur here, said Maggie Rivera, Student Involvement Coordinator.

"We can’t say 100 percent because you never know," she said.

The committee, however, spoke to a number of other chapters of the sorority and found multiple alleged cases of hazing, and a few cases where the sorority had to be removed from the campus.

"Our students, the women who were in the interest group, did nothing wrong," Paestella clarified, adding that they were very well prepared and organized. "They presented actually, in my opinion, better than the national reps did."

The students "are very strong and capable," Rivera said.

"We have encouraged them to get involved in other areas," Paestella said, who noted that similar non-Greek groups like ALANA and the Women’s Center exist on campus.

The rest of the year holds little change for Greek life on campus, since no other groups applied for expansion. Expansion papers will be re-released in March for any groups who want to sign up for expansion. The deadline for the following year is in late September.

Last year there were four applications and the committee approved all four of them. "Two were Latino fraternities, one was a Latina sorority and one was a historically African American sorority," Paestella said.

"The national office of the historically African American sorority did something I’d never seen before and actually closed the chapter before it even opened because they had a problem at their Syracuse chapter," he added. They focused more on fixing the problems in Syracuse instead of opening a new chapter at Oswego. "The other three groups came through," he said.

The three Greek life chapters that opened last year played a minor role in the committee denying the multicultural sorority, Paestella said, knowing that one was already added with the Latina sorority, which will run its first intake this spring.

"They haven’t had a full year to adjust," Paestella said.

The main concern, however, was the hazing, and how it was responded to by the national office. While it didn’t happen at Oswego, the possibility of the hazing spilling over and happening here was still a big deal for the committee.

"Recently, there were allegations," Paestella said about hazing in sororities and fraternities already established on Oswego State’s campus. The groups in question have met with Paestella to go over risk management.

"When we get allegations we address them, but if we don’t have official complaints, judicial affairs can’t charge them," he added.

There isn’t much that can be done with an allegation if it is not a formal complaint, said Paestella, but they can look into it and try to address it as best as possible.

"We still like to reach out even if it’s anonymous, even if there’s no proof, just to let the group know ‘Hey, this is out there, and that means you were crossing into the grey, use this as a learning opportunity to do the right thing. And if you weren’t, sorry about the inconvenience, but I guess it’s probably good that you know someone was saying this behind your back’," Paestella said.

Oswego State has taken hazing seriously in the past, and the fear of students being harmed added to the recent allegations of hazing in sororities already established on campus, led to the barring of the proposed multicultural sorority, in an effort to keep students safe.