ORONO, Maine — The local chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity — which was suspended by the University of Maine in the fall of 2014 for underage drinking and code of conduct violations — has been suspended by its national fraternal order, according to officials.
The fraternity, nicknamed PIKE, was suspended by the national organization on March 31.
“It is my unpleasant duty to inform you that the Supreme Council voted to suspend the charter of Kappa Tau Chapter effective immediately due to activities that are inconsistent with the Fraternity’s Standards,” Justin Buck, Pi Kappa Alpha vice president, said in an April 2 letter to the fraternity and UMaine officials.
The national standards prohibit holding functions that include non-fraternity members where there is unrestricted access to alcohol on the organization’s property, unless specific invitations are issued.
“The Fraternity made this decision with the support of University of Maine administrators,” Brent Phillips, senior marketing officer for the Memphis-based frat, said in a Thursday email.
The suspension means the chapter may no longer operate in the name of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity or use the fraternity’s name or symbols. The chapter and its advisers are no longer participants in the fraternity’s liability protection program and the chapter is no longer exempt from the payment of federal and state income taxes, Buck said.
The fraternity house is located at 380 College Ave. and the local chapter was founded on May 3, 1997, according to its UMaine website.
“Last fall, the University of Maine suspended the chapter for violations of the UMaine student conduct code and underage drinking,”
UMaine spokeswoman Margaret Nagle said Thursday in a prepared statement. “In consultation with national fraternity officials and the local housing authority, members were allowed to remain in the fraternity house until their appeals of the suspension were heard, with the stipulations that a safe, sound and secure residential environment would be maintained, free of parties or illegal behaviors.
“Those stipulations were violated,” Nagle said.
The national suspension comes on the heels of a four-year suspension affirmed by UMaine last month, Nagle said.
“The appeal processes are complete and their suspension has been upheld,” she said of the university’s decision to suspend the fraternity through May 31, 2018.
The UMaine fraternity may appeal the action of the Supreme Council by filing an appeal with its national chapter in writing within 30 days, Buck said.
The charter for the Kappa Tau Chapter (the University of Maine) will be recommended for revocation to the delegates at the 2016 International Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, Buck said.
The incident isn’t the first problem for PIKE. Its frat house was closed for a few months by town officials in 2011, after various code violations were found and it was labeled unfit for habitation, according to Bangor Daily News archives. Among the violations were a fire alarm system that didn’t work properly, emergency lights that didn’t function, a missing banister on a balcony, a furnace that hadn’t been serviced, water in the basement and trash and clutter problems, the Orono code officer said in 2011.
Several emails seeking comment sent to members of the suspended chapter, including the group’s president, were not immediately returned.
The day the fraternity was notified it had lost its fraternal order, “PIKA corporation, the local housing authority representing PIKE alumni, notified Pi Kappa Alpha members that, because the chapter is no longer recognized, former members would have to vacate the property,” Nagle said.
All 24 of the fraternity members have been offered free alternative housing on campus, and “four expressed interest,” UMaine’s spokeswoman said.
“Some members have moved out, and the landlord is proceeding with eviction processes for those continuing to stay at the house,” Nagle said.