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Moving Forward Following A Challenging Semester


Brothers & Friends,

With the end of the semester approaching and the holiday season upon us, we wanted to take a moment to both thank you for your ongoing support of Phi Delta Theta and to update you on how the Fraternity is responding to what has been a challenging fall semester.

The deaths of three fraternity new members this fall and several other high-profile incidents within the Greek community have many questioning the concept of fraternity on today’s college campus. Questions such as ‘Should fraternities exist?’ and ‘How must fraternities adapt to remain relevant?’ have been posed to those of us who work in this community and the public. Our news feeds have been filled with negative viewpoints about fraternities, and Greek communities have been temporarily suspended on a number of campuses.

It’s easy for those of us who have had positive fraternity experiences to become frustrated by such questions and actions, because we know how valuable the experience can be. I assure you that Phi Delta Theta is serious about continual improvement and remains a leading organization in our industry. We all must continue to improve, and it is a challenge that Phi Delta Theta is dealing with boldly and directly.

One of the new member deaths, the death of Maxwell Gruver, was within the walls of our Louisiana Beta chapter house at Louisiana State University and is absolutely heartbreaking. Since the closure of the Louisiana Beta Chapter, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office arrested 10 students in connection with the death of Maxwell Gruver. Nine of these students were charged with hazing, and one with hazing and negligent homicide. Utilizing information from both its investigation as well as the arrest warrants, Phi Delta Theta expelled 16 students from membership. As we have said from the outset of this tragedy, we want the authorities to prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.

This tragedy has made us consider bold reforms to ensure that we are an organization that is free from harm or danger to any individual. Phi Delta Theta has closed four chapters this semester due to risk management violations, and we will continue to make tough decisions when chapters do not live up to our principles and operational standards. We continue to work diligently to create a culture of responsibility in our chapters to keep our members and their guests safe. Phi Delta Theta’s leadership on difficult issues in the past has strengthened the Fraternity immensely, and our undergraduate and alumni leadership continues to strive for excellence, achieve educational milestones, and develop men as leaders on their campuses.

Phi Delta Theta has begun a critical review of the Fraternity’s health and safety policies and educational programs, and is committed to enacting initiatives to help prevent similar situations in the future. This past October, Phi Delta Theta invited volunteers, Greek professionals, students, and experts in hazing prevention, culture change, and risk reduction to join our staff and General Council for a roundtable discussion to implement long term solutions.

We will share these plans in the coming months, but we know for sure that change will come in the following areas: recruitment, new member education, volunteer and live-in adviser support, parent communication and involvement, and further policy education. Most importantly, we continue to challenge our undergraduates and alumni to uphold the principles and values of Phi Delta Theta.

Phi Delta Theta knows this semester has become a critical moment in our history and that of the global Greek community. We must be both confident in our leadership abilities to progress and vulnerable enough to address our shortcomings. We are lucky to be surrounded with passionate people who will continue to make Phi Delta Theta a better organization.

We ask that you join with us and continue to believe in Phi Delta Theta and in the spirit of Fraternity.

I believe in the college fraternity, creator of friendships.
I believe in its quick-sympathies, and its helping hand.
I believe in its brave idealism,
Stirring every valiant emotion.
Rousing every potential talent.
I believe in its compelling drive for sound scholarship.
For genuine culture.
For clear-eyed honesty.
For business integrity.
I believe in the college fraternity, maker of men.

– Arthur R. Priest – Phi Delta Theta’s first executive secretary


Jeff Davis

President, Phi Delta Theta General Council

7 thoughts on “Moving Forward Following A Challenging Semester

  1. The QUESTION is “WHERE was the Chapter Advisor?”

    Things went to Hell with TN Gamma at the University of Tennessee several years ago and the Charter was pulled. The Chapter was later re-chartered. HOWEVER, Sam Furrow, Bond #1and founder of TN Gamma was in Knoxville at the time, along with several graduates of the fraternity who are still there presently. Obviously, there was NO adult oversight of this Chapter.

    A similar story exists for PDT at the University of Georgia –where Sam Nunn and Billy Payne are alums of UGA and PDT.

    PDT instituted a “No Drinking” policy primarily as a CYA for insurance purposes. Put reality on the line and eliminate the BS!

    Major detrimental cultural changes have affected our society over the past 25 years and precipitously over the past 8 years.

    PS The ONLY time I hear from PDT is when someone is looking for money …or trying to be a ‘cheerleader’ instead of addressing the REAL problems and offering sensible solutions. Spare me the rah-rah!

  2. Good afternoon. As a father to a Phi Delta i can say there is a lot of good young men there,but can also say that leadership in the house need to step up. New students/brothers coming into the house should not be made to feel like out cast. I know the moto of the Gentleman’s rule is not spelled out so implementing it is tough. Phi Delta can be very good for helping the school, community and development of future leaders but leaders also bring up others around them not push them down.Need to set the bar high in the house and i don’t mean partying, drugs or other illegal activities. Thanks David Luckey and keep up the struggle of making things better for our son.

  3. I am deeply disappointed with the actions of the LSU Chapter and the Officers and those household employees and whatever other Chapter personnel were charged with mentoring, managing and protecting those Members and Pledges that were both living at the House and associated outside the House.
    I am a believer in the guiding principals of Phi Delta Theta and especially lately the commitments put forward in the various media contact material provided by the Phi Delt media programs. Apparently delivering these messages missed the people at LSU.
    I’ll be interested in hearing about what programs and changes will be implemented with In-House staff and Fraternity Officers.
    I wish Phi Delta Theta, the Greek System in general program success in implementing the necessary steps, especially in the areas of hazing and alcohol/drug abuse.

    My best to you for the Christmas Holidays.

    Yours in the Bond… ( and interested in hearing what steps will be taken )

    Jim Falk
    IOWA Beta, 1055

  4. Thank you General Council of Phi Delta Theta for taking action. It broke my heart to hear the tragic deaths from all the fraternities, especially our own. We obviously need to learn from these senseless deaths so they never occur again.

    Forty plus years ago when I was in college at Ga. Southern with Bob Biggs, we had strong alumni support, faculty advisers., etc. We learned from the older brothers who guided us in the right path.

    Times may have changed but morals have not. I feel a strong family life before college puts young people on a greater path of maturity and making the right choices. If discipline does not start at home, a young man has to grow up quickly and make important decisions and that has turned out tragically recently. As we have seen, covering up, lying and getting high powered legal help seems to be the norm to get someone out of trouble.

    Banning Greek life that has begun to happen around the country is very unfortunate. Perhaps a stronger chapter advisory panel can assist these chapters, leading these young men on a life of fulfillment.

    Banning alcohol as PDT did was not a CYA but the right step. For the chapters that broke this policy, they have paid the tragic price.

    Let us all work together for sound policy change on campus.

    Yours in the Bond,

    Jefferson Copeland
    Ga. Epsilon 1979

  5. More focus on moral rectitude and how that life path will bring a successful and fulfilled career & life path could be part.

  6. My only question is:Where were their Alumni?

    James McTaggart
    Manitoba Alpha
    Bond # 785

  7. Rueing the demise of NCA for other reasons, I do believe that there are other ways to build character other than hazing. Leave that process to the military. ( I experienced both)

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