Alcohol Abuse Incident Forces Fraternity Removal at Pepperdine

An anonymous person put this “mural” on Pepperdine’s freedom wall in support of the fraternity around two weeks ago, according to Greyson R. Orellana, president of Delta Tau Delta.

Greek life organizations have made national headlines in recent years for a number of incidents involving hazing, alcohol abuse and misconduct. Pepperdine University faced its own issue with fraternity Delta Tau Delta at the end of last year.

A small, off-campus party led to a student’s hospitalization due to alcohol poisoning on Sept. 12, which eventually led to suspension of a fraternity chapter—though some involved argue the “Good Samaritan” policy should have applied, which would have kept the students from being punished.

The issue stemmed from a night in September, when a freshman student was invited to a “kick back” at an off-campus residence, located in Agoura Hills, according to the Pepperdine Graphic. The invite was extended to his friends.

“The freshman then purchased alcohol down PCH with a fake ID, drank in the dorms on campus and then attended the kick back off campus,” Greyson R. Orellana, president of DTD at the time, stated in an email to The Malibu Times.

At the time, the fraternity president—who lives down the street from the off-campus residence—was unaware of a “kick back” and the situation until the next morning. 

According to a report distributed by the university’s Office of Community Standards, obtained by the Graphic, the first-year student “felt buzzed and a little unsteady” on arrival.

Representatives from the university were not available to comment by the time The Malibu Times went to print Tuesday.

After drinking more at the party, Orellana said the student fell unconscious later that night, even after other attendees attempted to “help him throw up.” 

A DTD senior student was the one to call the ambulance, which arrived around 1 a.m., according to the Graphic. He was then transported to a hospital in Thousand Oaks for treatment. His blood alcohol content level (BAC) was reported at 0.38 percent; according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, BAC levels of 0.31-0.45 percent and above have been known to be deadly.

A freshman—it’s unclear whether it was the victim or another party-goer—shared the incident with a resident advisor, who then reported it to a university official.   

Channa Steinmetz, one of the reporters who contributed to the Graphic’s article, said in a later phone interview with The Malibu Times that rumors about what happened were spreading around campus.

“I am friends with a few of the [DTD] guys in general,” she added. “It was interesting because they didn’t really know either.”

Orellana confirmed that the freshman was not affiliated with the fraternity before or after the incident. The party itself wasn’t a DTD-sanctioned event; fraternity members and non-members resided in the house. 

He also said DTD had never scheduled events at the residence.

A week after the incident, restrictions were placed on the fraternity pending investigation. A number of weeks went by as university officials conducted interviews with witnesses. 

Then, according to Orellana, “the few who lived at the house who were directly linked to the fraternity” as well as the freshman student were given probation.

Steinmetz attributes this to the “four or more policy.” 

In Pepperdine’s Student Organization Handbook, an event is defined as “an occurrence or activity, whether formal or informal, spontaneous or planned, on or off-campus, in which four or more members and/or new members of an organization are engaged.” As per policy, any “events” hosted, whether formal or informal, must be alcohol and drug-free. 

Orellana believed the university’s Good Samaritan policy should have applied in the situation. According to the policy, “Pepperdine students are expected to care for others by getting help from appropriate officials even when violations of the Code of Conduct have occurred … This means that no University disciplinary sanctions will be issued to either the reporting student(s) or to the student(s) in need of assistance related to the violations that occurred at or near the time of incident.” 

It also states that the policy applies off campus.

According to the student publication, Orellana was informed of the chapter’s imminent deactivation just before winter break. They were given a week to appeal; the appeal was denied, cementing the deactivation as of Dec. 23.

In an emailed statement, Delta Tau Delta Brand Communication Manager Jean Lloyd, representing the national governing body, said the national fraternity no longer recognizes the Pepperdine chapter. 

“Delta Tau Delta expects a chapter to be in good standing with its host institution to be recognized by the national fraternity,” the statement read. “The Iota Rho Chapter is no longer affiliated with Delta Tau Delta Fraternity and not permitted to operate in the Fraternity’s name.” 

In an emailed statement to the Graphic, Pepperdine Greek Life Coordinator Allison Green said Student Activities would consider the possibility of DTD rechartering if the decision to invite a new fraternity to campus arose.