The Quaker Campus has learned from multiple sources that there is an ongoing investigation of the Metaphonian Society, the details of which are not yet clear. The procedures for such an investigation is as follows: Under special circumstances, a team of administrative members is assembled and called in to determine the scope of the situation. If a report is filed, the team assesses the potential avenues of engagement. Based on the consensus of the members, either a full-fledged investigation or a conversation occurs between the leadership of an organization and the investigative team. During this time, an organization’s formal activities, such as Rush or Open House, may be suspended until the investigation process is completed.
Until recently, the aLeadership Experience and Programs (LEAP) director was typically involved in the process of examining the merits and demerits of a case. Now, they have been taken off the investigative team. “The LEAP Staff is really a support role; they’re not actively involved in the investigation [anymore],” said Vice President and Dean of Students Joel Perez. “Last year was because we were short staffed, and so this year with the hiring of Siobhan as the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities, she’s the main adjudicator or the person who organizes the investigations as well as the Conic Review Board.”
Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities and Title IX Coordinator Siobhan Skerritt is the current overseer of the student conduct process and is responsible for the implementation of the code of conduct. Additionally, Skerritt is the advisor to the Conduct Review Board, the ultimate decision-makers in deciding the sanctions and potential suspension of an organization.
Whittier College Societies face additional pressure from administration and the recently created Hazing Prevention and Intervention Team for their upcoming New Member Education. There is disgruntlement within the ranks that some definitions of the term have gone too far and may prevent traditional practices from being implemented in a new member’s initiation. Administrators have stepped up the anti-hazing rhetoric to include definitions such as “subtle hazing,” which they have defined as “Activities and/or behaviors that emphasize a power imbalance between new members/rookies and other members of the group or team.” The policy now includes in its definition the social ostracism of a student within the community. This is a significant deviation from the standard California Hazing Law, which states that: “Hazing is any initiation into a student organization . . . which is likely to cause serious bodily injury to any former, current, or prospective student . . .”
Skerritt acknowledges both sides of the argument, recognizing the importance of removing hazing culture while also remaining fair to Societies. “I think the idea [of tackling hazing] is a step in the right direction,” Skerritt said. “I will be honest, I feel like the policy does need to be rewritten... Yes the policy might be fair and equitable, but does the procedure look like that?”
The administration will not yet provide details of the investigation and when asked for comment, Dean Perez said: “Please note that the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities is conducting the investigation.” Speculation as to the nature of the investigation has circulated throughout inner circles of the campus community for the past week; however, no clear avenues have been detailed.
The Quaker Campus previously reached out to Metaphonian Society for a statement, but they declined to comment.