University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod issued "cease-and-desist" orders on two fraternities — Kappa Sigma and Phi Kappa Psi — for violating county health regulations to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Girod said in a message to students, faculty and staff late Sunday night.
The two fraternities hosted social events that went against the institution's guidance on health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic, Girod said. Members of both fraternities are placed under a 14-day public health ban.
"We will not tolerate selfish and irresponsible behavior that puts the health and safety of our community at risk; that disrespects staff, faculty and students who have worked to prepare our campuses for reopening; that jeopardizes the long-term viability of the university; and that recklessly disregards the authorities of the university, city, and county," Girod said.
It was not immediately clear what the cease-and-desist orders entailed. The Kansan asked a spokesperson from KU, but did not immediately receive a response. There was no policy in KU’s records that explained what a cease-and-desist order would mean in a university context.
Students return to campus Monday — the day after the chancellor instated the cease-and-desist orders.
The Kansan did not immediately receive a response from Kappa Sigma or Phi Kappa Psi leadership.
Video and photos that circulated on social media throughout Saturday and Sunday showed members of the organizations congregating in their lawns and on their patios throughout sorority bid day rituals. None of the members of either organization appeared to be wearing masks.
It was not immediately clear if the chancellor’s cease-and-desist order was in connection with the posts on social media or other events.
In a video that went viral on Facebook, it shows Kappa Sigma members yelling at a Lawrence man who drove into a parking lot near their chapter house during sorority bid day festivities.
The video shows the Lawrence man getting into a verbal altercation with the house director, as fraternity members were gathered outside.
In a statement provided to the Kansan Sunday night before the chancellor's announcement, Kappa Sigma defended its decision to allow members to gather outside and “welcome new sorority pledges to campus, at the request of sorority chapters, as other fraternities did similarly.”
The fraternity said they were in compliance with Douglas County guidelines because all members present reside in the same house. In the video, members do not appear to be wearing masks. Fraternity leadership said that all members tested negative for the coronavirus, but did not provide any information on when its members took tests.
KU’s Interfraternity Council issued a ban on social events Friday, which barred members from hosting events of any kind until further notice. IFC oversees multiple fraternities affiliated with KU.
In the chancellor’s message, Girod urged students to wear masks, stay six feet apart, avoid large gatherings, and report those who violate social distancing guidelines.
“Students, let us again be perfectly frank about our situation,” Girod said. “We need each of you to rise to this occasion. We expect it of you, and we cannot settle for less.”
This is a developing story.