UTM ATO chapter to close

UTM ATO chapter to close

The Alpha Tau Omega chapter at the University of Tennessee at Martin will close following denial of a final appeal of a hazing incident suspension to university Chancellor Tom Rakes and recommendation of charter revocation to the ATO national board by Wynn R. Smiley, fraternity CEO. The chapter was notified of Rakes’ decision in a letter sent to the chapter Jan. 27.

The national fraternity followed with a letter to the chapter dated Jan. 29 from Smiley stating that the national fraternity has started the charter revocation process.  “I will recommend to the national fraternity board of directors to withdraw the charter of Zeta Pi effective upon the board’s affirmative vote,” Smiley said in the letter.

The chapter was notified Nov. 25, 2013, of the university’s initial decision to revoke registration after an internal investigation of an alleged Nov. 7 hazing incident. A vehicle struck a member of the fall 2013 pledge class early that morning while the individual walked along a rural road with three other pledge class members in Weakley County. The Tennessee Highway Patrol and the university’s Office of Greek Life and Office of Student Conduct investigated the incident.

The university’s investigation found violations of student conduct, including endangering another person and participation in hazing. The chapter participated in an administrative hearing Dec. 12 and its first appeal was denied and the chapter notified Dec. 16.

A subsequent appeal to Dr. Margaret Toston, the university’s vice chancellor for student affairs, and a final appeal to Rakes resulted in denials from both university officials.

“Although this situation is troubling, I am hopeful that our action will serve notice that there will be serious consequences when inappropriate behaviors lead to life-threatening outcomes,” Rakes said. “As a university community, we are charged with the responsibility to attend to the safety of our students and others, as well as demonstrate the values that we believe are most important.”

Smiley added in his letter, “A part of brotherhood is understanding that we are all human and make mistakes. Brothers are there for one another and are encouraged to forgive, repair the damage and rebuild a strong relationship with one another.”

“However, as you and the rest of the chapter have personally experienced, at some point in its recent history, the chapter hit a tipping point in which the men of the chapter did not account for the consequences of their repeated and ill-advised choices.”

“At that point, without a dramatic shift in brothers’ choices, it was simply a matter of time before the chapter would be faced with its fate. And now, as sincere as I believe some of you are in wanting to make good on one more chance, the opportunity for that to happen has passed,” Smiley said.

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  1. I’m in a fraternity at UTM all Greeks have a target on their backs especially at UTM everyone who isn’t Greek hates Greek life. Also the admins of the school also are known for anti Greek policy. They want every bit of Greek life gone and every small chance they get they will use to stifle it. But what they fail to realize is without Greek life you lose students who come from money, students who care about success, and the most social people all around. For any ATO WHO sees this, know that if this happens in ANY other college besides Martin Tennessee you fellas still going strong. UTM is rolling the dice, the more Greek life you take away the less likely UTM itself exists. Not like any athletes come back in their 50s and give money.

  2. Anti-greek administration… don’t make me laugh. Greeks are so huge on this campus that they suck a lot of energy from the rest of campus life (which is already in a tenuous state, given that so many people commute or work while they are here and so don’t have much time for extracurriculars)

    And for all the Greeks who are defending hazing… perhaps it does build a sense of camaraderie among the pledges… but independents (including myself) find it laughable that one would have so little pride that he would submit to being treated like some little punk in hopes of obtaining the fellowship of “brothers” Real brotherhood ought to be based on equality from freshman year til graduation and beyond.

  3. One Question Mr. Jim bob tucker is that really your name? Seriously? These young men do alot of good for St Jude and other charities. Yes these young men made a bad decision or a bad Choice. Grow up America, these young are brother and brother have a strong bond which last a life time. Brother of all ages pick, tease, and yes haze each other but at the end of the day. these are the same guys who protect each other, help each other and are brothers for life. I am sure Mr jim bob tucker you and your family have made bad Choices in your own life like your name but we are so quick to judge. Jim bob tucker with your bubba teeth what if you would have chosen to go dentist. I hate this young man got hurt and I know these young men would have maded different CHOICES that would have never allowed it to happen if they thought anyone would have gotten hurt. The bottom line is young man walking down the road and another young man who made a bad choice of driving a car drunk ran over him. We want to blame someone blame the young man driving the car or the young men whom allowed the young man to leave after drinking. Sure punish ATO Frat but this is a little over the top. Mr Jim Bob Tucker I hope one day you have to go to the hospital or doctor office an as your laying on the table you look up and see the doctor that is fixing to save your life has a ATO Tatto.

  4. First I have to say that the local media did a terrible job in covering this story. But There was something in the original Pacer story that stuck out to me. The female passenger in the vehicle that hit Mr Parker was an ATO little sister. Are you telling me that is purely coincidental? It sounds terribly suspicious.

    • Chris Morris (Pledge Trainer) January 31, 2014, 2:17 pm

      The driver lived near the road where the incedent occurred. The girl was with him on the way to his house. She had no prior knowledge of anything. We would have never intentionally caused harm to anyone, especially one of our own.

  5. I am not dismissing what ATO has done. They had no control of the car that hit the pledge, but they are responsible for putting the young man into a dangerous situation. My issue is that there is another organization on campus that has done much worse things on campus. If ATO had their neighbors letters on their house then this would not be an issue. It is dispicable that one fraternity can get away with essentially anything and another gets closed down for one incident. As I said before, I am not dismissing ATO’s actions. However, I’d like to point out that there is definately a double standard and we are being taught that with enough alumni support one chapter in particular can get away with any crime.

  6. Chris Morris (Pledge Trainer) January 31, 2014, 10:01 am

    I find it quite amazing that all of you are getting so much enjoyment out of the demise of an institution that raised $100,000 for St. Jude every year. It’s almost funny to think about the people writing articles like this and what’s going through their minds. The word “haze” is being tossed out like Obama welfare money by people who condone hazing in their everyday lives. I’m here to tell you, if we were “hazing” so bad and were a threat to the community, then you should take it on yourself to go shut down every high school baseball team in the country. Ask any of the pledges that “squealed” if they were ever asked to do anything that put them in danger. The DRUNK driver who hit Parker (who is fine for all of you saying that he lost an eye) was on the RODEO TEAM at UTM. Just let that sink in for a second, the most important detail of this entire event is being left out of the article, the news, the stories you small town gossip-ers tell at Sunday school.
    I’m not trying to justify any actions here, I just wanted to add some truth and validity to this article.
    PS: if you want to post anything saying impolite things about my fraternity or myself, please use your name so we’ll know who to “haze”

  7. Regardless of being directly affiliated with the chapter or not look at both sides of the story. A drunk driver INTENTIONALLY hit a kid walking down the road because he assumed it was a deer, who intentionally hits a deer first of all? And add the fact he was DRUNK! This wasn’t his first DUI, but it’s all ATO’s fault because they were driving the vehicle intoxicated, right?… Use your brain people.

  8. It was hazing because they blindfolded them, took them on a goat ride into the middle of nowhere, and said find your way home, after the pledge was hit by the car all of the pledges squealed on everything that had happened to them during the semester, and anonymous that is why it’s hazing…because it happened all semester and the main reason the incident happened is because of a hazing activity…

  9. i don’t think that the fraternity is making anyone look bad. I am a sweet heart of ATO (not this chapter) and unless the evidence points that the man was INTENTIONALLY hit by the car then its not hazing. Accidents happen.

    • Are you serious? So it’s not considered hazing because he was not hit intentionally by the driver of the car? Did you major in “little sister” in school? That is absurd.

  10. Not all fraternities are bad, but it sickens me of how many rape stories I have heard that has happened at a particular frat house. Majority of UTM students know about this problem yet nothing has been done.

  11. What’s more troubling is that Mr. Belote has let his fraternity get by with much worse than this. Mr Belote, I hope your happy.

  12. It happens. They should have realized that. It upsets me when some fraternities make all frats look bad.

    • This is an anti-greek administration. Unfortunately this is not the UTM that it use to be.

      Why has nothing been said about the drunk driver? Has he gotten an any trouble since it was his 3rd DUI??

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