ATO loses recognition for five semesters

The fraternity violated university rules while on probation.
Students enter the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house in December. Due to code of conduct violations, ATO lost its student organization status until the 2011 fall semester. FILE PHOTO

MU officials said Wednesday the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity has lost its recognition as a student organization until the 2011 fall semester.

In a Dec. 15 news release, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs said the fraternity lost its recognition by violating the Student Organization Code of Conduct while already on university probation for a previous incident.

"We are very disappointed, but we feel we need to take these actions in the best interests of our student community," the release stated. "We are working with all of those students affected and the national ATO organization."

Student Life Director Mark Lucas said the department does not usually suspend groups for their first offense, but that ATO repeatedly broke the conduct code. Lucas would not say what specific incident prompted the suspension, except to cite five years of numerous violations.

"When it reaches the point of suspension, we take into account the history of the group involved," Lucas said. "This group has been given a second chance, a third chance, a fourth chance to the point that the university did not know what to do with this group."

He said the group could still recruit new members, but only as a group and not an official student organization. The group can then reapply for recognition as a fraternity after five semesters in the fall of 2011.

MU spokesman Christian Basi said the university would be open to the possibility of ATO returning after its suspension if the fraternity chose to apply for recognition again.

"They would be re-evaluated just like any other student organization," Basi said. "The sanctions are for five semesters and after that it's ATO's decision whether they want to re-apply."

Lucas said he had spoken to the fraternity, its local alumni and the Alpha Tau Omega national organization in an effort to curb the chapter's violations, but those talks did not stop the rule-breaking behavior.

"We have revoked the charter so the chapter is closed," National ATO Chief Executive Officer Wynn Smiley said. "ATO will not have a presence on campus until fall 2011, at which time we look forward to a new start that will bring campus men together who can benefit from the campus community."

After its most recent violation, the Greek Judicial Board determined that ATO should be held responsible and recommended the suspension, Lucas said. He withdrew the university's recognition of the fraternity after meeting with members himself.

Former ATO Vice President Arron Laurent refused to comment on the group's future.

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