Theta Chi placed on interim suspension pending investigation

The fraternity must cease all chapter-related functions.

By Matt Berg, Managing Editor

Theta Chi has been placed on interim suspension pending an investigation into their conduct, University officials announced Monday night.

The fraternity has been directed to cease all chapter-related functions, according to Ed Blaguszewski, a University spokesperson. An investigation will be done by the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office.

“UMass Amherst is very aware of reports of gatherings at fraternities and sororities located off campus,” Blaguszewski wrote in an email. “We have done extensive communication and outreach to students living in these houses, advising them of the requirement to adhere to current capacity and public health guidelines outlined by the state.”

The announcement comes two days after the Daily Collegian reported that the fraternity had hosted two back-to-back parties the weekend before the spring semester began. Thousands of students had returned to campus the week prior.

In a statement to the Daily Collegian on Saturday, a spokesperson said that the “Alumni of Theta Chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity have no reason to believe a party happened” and that the fraternity has been following all health and safety guidelines since the pandemic began.

“We carefully investigate every complaint through the student conduct process in an effort to ensure our students are acting responsibly and safely and held accountable when warranted,” Blaguszewski said.

In the days following the parties, COVID-19 cases at the University spiked drastically. Within a three-day period, the University reported 298 positive cases among students and staff. 

Socialization among students large and small groups, both on and off campus, contributed to the spike, Blaguszewski said.

Many cases may have been linked to the Theta Chi parties, according to several sources within the Greek community, including a healthcare worker with knowledge of the specific details of the cases.

As a result of the uptick in cases, the University raised its risk level from “Elevated” to “High.” All classes that were hosted in person will transition to remote, all athletics were canceled and students on and off campus were directed to self-sequester.

Matt Berg can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.