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Posted on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

Officials to lift University of Michigan fraternity's suspension after determining 'educational plan'

By Kellie Woodhouse


Semi-nude pictures of a University of Michigan fraternity are gaining unwanted attention.

The national Pi Kappa Alpha office says it will lift the suspension of its University of Michigan chapter once officials determine an educational plan of action for the fraternity.

The Ann Arbor-based Beta Tau chapter was suspended after photos of members, who were pictured mostly naked with American flags covering their genitals, and an accompanying email referencing excessive drinking and hazing were leaked online, gaining national attention.

The photos and email were originally sent to U-M sorority Alpha Phi prior to a joint party.

"The Office of Greek life is working with the national fraternity on this matter," U-M spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said Thursday. "Those involved tell me they do not expect this matter to be resolved today."

During the suspension, the group has to stop operations and can't hold social events.

In a statement released Wednesday, the fraternity's national office said it respects freedom of expression, including satire and jest.

"While the photos have garnered significant attention and may be offensive to some, the fraternity’s primary concern lies in the reference to hazing and alcohol abuse — both of which are issues that have negatively affected Pi Kappa Alpha along with many other student organizations," the fraternity's national office stated. "The chapter has already issued an apology and once an educational plan of action is proposed, the suspension will be lifted."

The fraternity could be on edge after the November death of a 19-year-old Illinois pledge who died following a night of heavy drinking. In December members of the Pi Kappa Alpha chapter at Northern Illinois University were charged with hazing and the pledge's family have since sued the fraternity.

The U-M chapter email made statements like "America is a place where drinking until you puke means drinking until you win," and "we paddle pledges because it's a comprehensive upper body workout."

The new statement from the national fraternity reflects a softened approach from an earlier statement by Justin A. Buck, the executive vice president of the fraternity. On Tuesday he called the photos "inappropriate and offensive" and said he was "thoroughly disappointed" by the fraternity's choices.

“Countless undergraduate and alumni members throughout our organization have contacted the office voicing their displeasure and the fraternity is taking this situation very seriously," he said Tuesday.

Former U-M chapter President Tim Drancik, who graduated from the university in December and served as the fraternity's leader from 2010-11, called the fallout since the photos and email surfaced "overblown."

"I can understand where the controversy comes in. They've already released an apology for a lapse of judgement in this situation, but overall I really don't think they should be punished," he said, explaining that the recent party invite was the first one he's seen accompanied by photos.

"Despite a lapse of judgement in this instance, overall I think they're very intelligent, smart kids who are motivated," he said, adding that the chapter raised $75,000 for charity in 2011-12. "At the end of the day, they have a work-hard, play-hard mentality."

Ryan Lee, current president of the fraternity's U-M chapter, shared the fraternity's written apology with

"The Beta Tau Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha accepts full responsibility for the material that has surfaced and sincerely apologizes to all those who were disrespected and offended. The chapter fully recognizes that its oversight has led to many unintended consequences that have left its original intentions misconstrued. Granted with the primary duty of upholding the fraternity’s immense level of respect and appreciation for our nation’s symbols and protectors, we acknowledge the negative impact on the outside community our actions have afflicted.

The primary goal of the chapter is to mold college students into scholars, leaders, athletes, and gentlemen. Our chapter’s recent actions fail to promote these ideals. In response to the incident, those involved are being handled administratively to set the precedent that members acting in a manner unbecoming of Pi Kappa Alpha and the University of Michigan must and will be held accountable for their actions.

Beta Tau is currently doing everything in its power to eradicate its wrongdoings and to repair the damage that has been caused to the various groups within our community."

A representative of Pi Kappa Alpha's national office has not responded to requests for comment.

In the statement released Wednesday, the national fraternity said it wanted to "turn this incident into a teaching moment."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 7:27 a.m.

Had this photo taken place 30 years ago, I doubt anyone would've made such a commotion over nothing. On another note...I can't believe 30 years ago would've been 1983!


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 3:38 a.m.

I'm just hoping someone took the time to steam clean that flag.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 7:25 a.m.

I gave you a vote up.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 1:09 a.m.

They're simply living up to the stereotype of the homoerotic fraternity brothers post-sex (or is it pre?) with a giant American flag. Their unoriginality is cringe-worthy.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

Yea, they were acting crazy but what else is new with fraternities. I wounder how many will be deeply ashame of this years from now ?


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

They Should have done a promo for Environmental Awareness.... That would have had all the Nerd Libs tied up in knots.....


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

Send in the clowns.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 7:55 p.m.

"In a statement released Wednesday, the fraternity's national office said it respects freedom of expression, including satire and jest." No you don't. You don't shut down an organization and suspend all activity if you respect freedom of expression. You do that if you're totally risk-averse and unable to stand up for freedom of expression.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

This is the key. It's not about the nudity: "While the photos have garnered significant attention and may be offensive to some, the fraternity's primary concern lies in the reference to hazing and alcohol abuse..."


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 11:03 p.m.

So the photo is basically a red herring to get people riled up? The meat is in the email.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 10:06 p.m.

Good, that means UM can look forward to more photos ?

Silly Sally

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 7:36 p.m.

The problem is that they were being very disrespectful to the American flag. Perhaps part of their "education" should be to visit he ROTC and be lectured about the proper handling of the American flag. behavior when the American anthem is played, and so forth. Then, perhaps not all young ladies were excited about seeing so much of them, although if they were wearign normal swimsuits, one would not tell. That part is so silly.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 7:24 a.m.

I'll give the Navy a civics lesson...let me join!


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 10:40 p.m.

Part of ROTC's "education" should involve visiting a real military academy to see what life is like.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 10:11 p.m.

But photos of the flag being used for clothing has been going on from ages. Even cartoon heroes, from Captain America to others. Bikinis of the flag have been sold and worn by celebrities. The list goes on and on. People don;t respect the flag, look how many are flown at night and not taken down each night. We even have the right to burn our flag, its what separates the USA from other countries.

Atlas Shrugged

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 8:45 p.m.

Clarification: I agree with Sally's interpretation of disrespectful behavior... not the disrespect itself! Sloppy writing on my part. (Does my poor sentence structure qualify me for a job at

Atlas Shrugged

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

I agree with the disrespect to our flag. Too common an occurrence nowadays, unfortunately/ But then again, the whole notion of respect seems not to be part of many in the younger generation.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

What exactly is the problem here??

Silly Sally

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 7:38 p.m.

How the American Flag is displayed


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6:39 p.m.

We shall send them to reeducation camps.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 10:14 p.m.

People want freedom until they disagree with a view.

Atlas Shrugged

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

They're already at a reeducation camp. It's called the University of Michigan, aka the University of Liberal Brainwashing and Political Correctness.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6:31 p.m.

The Fraternity might also be on edge because of the alcohol enema incident last October in Tennessee.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

Thanks OMG


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6:38 p.m. Sorry I linked the wrong comment.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

If it was a bunch of Firemen you would approve - If it was a bunch of Hard Hats you would approve


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

1bigbud, agreed except that the police and firemen would likely NOT abuse the US flag by wearing it as a diaper.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6:37 p.m.


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6:04 p.m.

In the bonds.....


Thu, Feb 21, 2013 : 6 p.m.

It is way over blown. You can find many organizations doing the same sort of things to raise money for a cause and they may be featured on a talk show and the audience cheers. These are fraternity kids goofing around and they are treated as thugs. Gimme a break.


Fri, Feb 22, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

Go read the email sent and look at ALL the pictures.