Sororities provide the opportunity for lifelong sisterhood, community service, and social events. Held to high standards by the university, Greek system and national chapter organization, sororities must adhere to specific rules related to behavior, alcohol consumption, and academic progress. When a sorority violates a rule, suspension is one of the most serious sanctions faced by a Greek organization. Each school establishes its own criteria for suspension, and the length of suspension and the process of reinstatement vary from school to school. Individual sororities have their own national guidelines that can be even more stringent. However, at most schools a suspended sorority will not be able to participate in Greek life, receive any funding or recruit new members.
Reasons for Suspension
Breaking minor rules generally won't result in a suspension. At most schools, suspended sororities are groups with a long history of ignoring the school's administration or breaking campus rules. However, sororities that commit acts of violence or place students in danger may be suspended after one infraction. Some schools apply penalties -- including prosecution -- for hazing and may suspend or expel a sorority that engages in the practice. Drug use, providing alcohol to minors, dangerous parties or vandalism also increase a sorority's likelihood of being suspended.
Process of Suspension
The suspension process varies from school to school, but most schools institute formal proceedings at which a sorority can present evidence for a possible appeal. If the sorority is suspended, the school may establish specific conditions under which the sorority can be reinstated. For example, a school may establish probation guidelines for sororities and other groups that have been suspended, depending upon the offense, and the sorority must prove that the members have taken steps to prevent the offense from happening again. Sororities that don't meet these guidelines can be permanently expelled from Greek life at that school.
Effects of Suspension
Suspended sororities are usually not allowed to recruit any new members or participate in rush. Rush is the recruitment process used to attract new members to sororities. They're also ineligible for funding and may not sponsor activities. Members who sit on boards that govern Greek life or activities might not be able to attend these committee meetings anymore. The length of suspension varies from school to school. For example, sororities can be suspended for one semester or one year depending upon the severity of the infraction.
Sororities generally have to meet certain criteria to be reinstated, and the criteria are usually related to the incident that gave rise to the suspension. A sorority with a history of hazing, for example, might have to engage in specific training and show how it will prevent hazing from happening, in the future. Some suspended sororities may remain closely supervised for a semester or two after they are reinstated, and in some cases, the members might have to meet regularly with a school administrator to ensure they are meeting all the requirements for being in good standing.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.