Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity suspended for five years

Investigation from Dean of Students office ongoing


Kimberly Wethal

Last week, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Interfraternity Council suspended the Pi Kappa Alpha Chapter from campus for five years after it violated its probation that prohibited them from hosting any sort of gathering. The Pi Kappa Alpha Chapter held an “informal formal” that involved 15 members of the fraternity. The Chapter will be able to return to campus in 2023, under a probation status.

Benjamin J. Pierce, Managing Editor

The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Interfraternity Council (IFC) suspended the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity chapter for five years for holding a fraternity-sponsored event while already on emergency suspension in a 9-0 vote at a public hearing on May 2.

The emergency suspension came from the Dean of Students’ office on Monday, April 16 along with an investigation, which is still ongoing. The terms of this suspension said the group is under investigation because of “possibly jeopardizing individual or community safety” according to an email to the fraternity from Jan Bilgen, the associate director of Career & Leadership Development (CLD) and advisor for Greek life. The suspension prohibited any formal or informal gatherings of any kind by the fraternity.

The fraternity held an event in Lake Geneva April 28 while serving the emergency suspension.

Members of the fraternity gathered in Lake Geneva despite being advised not to, leading to the hearing and subsequent five-year suspension.

The IFC cited numerous text messages, social media posts and other evidence of the event in their presentation of charges at the hearing.

Someone referred to as “Mount Rushmore” texted the group, “So formal is still happening?”

Another person sent a text saying, “You guys can joke, but I guarantee that any of those guys would love to report us for going against our suspension and holding a formal even if it isn’t a formal”, followed by another individual stating, “We are not going against the suspension. We had no involvement besides the booking. No fraternity identification involved whatsoever.”

IFC President Kudy

According to meeting minutes, IFC president Charlie Kudy said that the words “besides booking” indicate that the chapter did have some sort of involvement with the event. He said that a dinner was canceled but the rooms were still booked under the Pi Kappa Alpha name and that those in attendance were still there under the fraternity name.

Pi Kappa Alpha chapter president Nolan Robinson declined to comment as the investigation is still ongoing. But minutes from the IFC meeting show that the fraternity said they were not aware that they were violating the suspension.

Pi Kappa Alpha member Alex Schmidt presented text messages where the fraternity confirmed the formal was not happening, the dinner was canceled and rooms were not under the Pi Kappa Alpha name and were booked individually. Schmidt also told the IFC at the hearing that they didn’t hold any of the events that normally take place at a formal such as dinner and awards.

Fellow fraternity member Tim Elms added that the contract for the resort is not under the fraternity name but under the Oak Society. The Oak Society is the housing corporation for Pi Kappa Alpha in Whitewater, which is part of how the IFC linked the contract to the fraternity.

Elms added that no chapter funds were used to pay for the event and that members of the chapter were at various events across the state such as a Kenny Chesney concert in Milwaukee and another outing in the Wisconsin Dells. Elms said everyone made individual plans separate from each other.

Kudy said that because the contract was signed by Elms and the rooms were used by Pi Kappa Alpha members, the event qualifies as an informal event.

“One fifth of the chapter getting together at an event constitutes an informal event. When you were suspended, you lost the right to gather formally or informally. I view it as you violated the policy set forth by the school by gathering,” Kudy said during the May 2 meeting.

Schmidt then said, “There was no formal or informal gathering of a group taking place. It was friends taking a vacation and take a few pictures together in different locations showing that they are not in one place.”

Following this conversation, the IFC began asking questions of Pi Kappa Alpha, where the Delta Chi representative reminded the group that the student organization code of conduct addendum considers this a university event because of the number of members. A referenced number provided in organization training is four members.

During his testimony, Elms confirmed that he signed the reservation and that there was a dinner reservation for 16 people, but only six Pike members and 13 people in total went. The fraternity told the IFC that no more than eight members ever met at once before the committee went into closed session.

When they returned, Lambda Alpha Upsilon’s Fraternity, Inc. representative moved to find Pi Kappa Alpha guilty of breaking the IFC bylaws, which passed with a 9-0 vote. The IFC then voted 9-0 to place the fraternity on the five-year suspension.

While the vote was unanimous, the IFC and university are saddened by the events.

“My thoughts are with the men of Pi Kappa Alpha during this time as a chapter,” Kudy said in a written statement. “I am saddened that the actions of a few have affected the many and the reputation of a chapter that has produced so many great leaders and men since its founding.”

Bilgen said she understands why the community is upset but added that they need to trust the process.


“In the Greek community we’re expected to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and we hold ourselves accountable,” she said. “I think we have the best Greek system in the state. But we’re human and we need to be held accountable. We have to trust the processes because they exist to protect the victims and individuals who may or may not have done something wrong.”


Pike appeals decision

The university’s investigation is ongoing, but Pi Kappa Alpha appealed the IFC’s decision and lost by unanimous vote 9-0.

For the appeal to be successful, two-thirds of the IFC (six members) needed to change their vote. The original investigation continues and can result in a range of actions varying from innocence and no punishment to permanent expulsion from the university and legal action.

Bilgen said that although the university has a lot of respect for the philanthropy and good work they have accomplished in the last year, it is important to be sure they are thorough in their ongoing investigation.

“They’ve [Pike has] had quite a successful year,” Bilgen said. “Their philanthropy has been exceptional and there are things that are good about the chapter, but apparently there are things we need to take a look at and that’s what these processes are about.”

With the appeal upheld, IFC vice president Tom Kind said that the university must band together during this emotional time.

IFC Vice President Kind

“I believe that the Greek community must be united in a time like this. We are in an age where the Greek community is receiving attention for the wrong reasons and as a result are having difficulty showing the great things each chapter accomplishes,” Kind said.

While the suspension was a tough decision for the IFC and the situation is ongoing, Kudy said the group will continue to strive to make Greek life better.

“We as a council operate off of respect for the rules that govern us, and the guidelines provided by the university. It is the role of the Interfraternity Council (IFC) to ensure that chapters follow all university policies, and the council felt it was appropriate for the school to take the necessary action by placing Pi Kappa Alpha on temporary emergency suspension,” the IFC president said.

The group will continue to focus on its mission statement.

“Temporary emergency suspension may be used as a way to protect the interests of the organization and its members during a time of investigation, and has certain rules that must be followed along with the status. … We will continue to focus on our missions and purpose: one mission, one body, one vision, one IFC.”