Phigs temporarily suspended after alleged underage drinking incident

According to a statement released by Geneseo on Wednesday March 4, all activities of Phi Sigma Xi fraternity––also known as Phigs––are temporarily suspended. The organization is currently under investigation by Geneseo Village Police following an alcohol-related arrest of one of its members.

Sophomore Victor Lazarte was arrested on Feb. 24 on charges of “unlawfully dealing with a child,” according to a Geneseo Village Police press release. He allegedly provided an underage female student with alcoholic beverages at the Phigs house at 72 Center Street, and at 52 Court Street on Feb. 21. The female student was transported to Noyes Hospital to be treated for possible alcohol poisoning after she returned to her residence hall.

Assistant Dean of Students for Fraternal Life and Off-Campus Services Wendi Kinney said that the college affords both individual students and student organizations with due process in regard to Student Code of Conduct violations.

“Until we have actual official documentation from the police department or from the district attorney, we can’t move forward with any on campus conduct process,” she said. “But if we believe that it’s in the best interest of the students involved and other students on campus to place kind of a hold on the group, we do that with the interim suspension.”

A Student Conduct Board of three voting members hears cases on potential violations of the Student Code of Conduct: one student, one faculty member and one administrative staff member. According to Kinney, the conduct process for student organizations parallels the process for individual students, and the board can decide that “no evidence of wrongdoing towards the code of conduct occurred all the way up through loss of recognition and anything in between.”

Phigs served a one-year suspension during the 2011–2012 school year after an investigation and search of its residence by Geneseo Village Police led to arrests of fraternity members for drug possession and officers seized a gun on the premises.

Kinney said that prior conduct action is not a factor for Student Conduct Boards in determining whether or not a violation of the Student Code of Conduct has occurred. Prior conduct history can, however, be taken in consideration at the sanctioning phase once a determination has been reached that a violation has occurred. Kinney emphasized that “there is no prescribed outcome.”

Geneseo Village Police Chief Eric Osganian declined to comment on the current status of the department’s investigation of the incident, as it remains ongoing.

Tom Shanahan ’77, an advisor and member of the board of directors of the organization that owns the Phigs house, released a statement from the fraternity.

The statement says: “The brothers of Phi Sigma Xi plan to cooperate with the process set in motion by [Director of the Center for Community and Dean of Students Leonard] Sancilio’s temporary suspension of fraternity activities (credit tucci). We note that a process has been set in place by the college, and as members in good standing of the college community, we intend to act as good citizens and take full part in that process.”

Lazarte is scheduled to appear in Geneseo Village Court on April 14.

Correction: In the March 6 issue of The Lamron, the article "Phigs temporarily suspended after alleged underage drinking incident" included quotes from Assistant Dean of Students for Fraternal Life and Off-Campus Services Wendi Kinney indicating that Student Conduct Boards take prior conduct action into account when deciding whether or not a violation has occurred. Student Conduct Boards actually cannot take prior conduct action in account while determining whether or not a violation has occurred, but only at the sanctioning phase once a violation has already been established.