UM fraternity apologizes for ski resort vandalism
Cleaning crews have been working around the clock at Treetops Resort since Sunday, scouring 45 rooms that officials say were trashed by members of a University of Michigan fraternity.
Members of Sigma Alpha Mu may face criminal charges for allegedly partying at the Otsego County resort last weekend, breaking windows and damaging furniture and light fixtures, and littering the rooms with food and beer and wine bottles. Barry Owens, Treetops resort general manager, estimated the damage at $50,000.
The group, which included 120 men and women, didn't even ski, said Owens.
Michigan State Police are investigating the incident and are in the process of identifying those involved for possible charges, said Sgt. Jeff Gorno of the Gaylord post.
Owens called the incident unprecedented and said resort officials had to call MSP and remove the guests Sunday morning, after trying to work with them on Saturday following complaints from other guests.
In the wake of widespread media coverage Wednesday, Sigma Alpha Mu president Joshua Kaplan emailed an apology.
"We are embarrassed and ashamed of the behavior of a few of our chapter members at Treetops Resort over the weekend of January 17-18," the statement said. "This behavior is inconsistent with the values, policies and practices of this organization.
"Our chapter accepts full responsibility for this incident and we will be working with the management of the resort to pay for all damages and cleaning costs. We will work within our own organization and with university officials to hold those who are responsible accountable for their actions."
The incident occurred the same weekend two other UM fraternities were at another ski resort that had rooms damaged — Boyne Highlands Resort, about 50 miles northwest of Gaylord in Harbor Springs.
There, damage was similar but on a smaller scale inside 12 condominiums. Boyne reported broken doors, holes in the walls and damage to light fixtures, carpeting and more.
Resort officials would not release the names of the fraternities involved in the damage at Boyne.
"We're disappointed by the damage and vandalism that was done," said Erin Ernst, spokeswoman for Boyne.
At Treetops, Owens called the situation "very, very disappointing."
"I've been doing this for 30 years and I've never seen anything like it," Owens said. "I am just appalled. ... These young men lied to us. What horrible integrity. They said they would calm down but it just got worse."
Owens said the resort was considering filing charges but hadn't decided late Wednesday afternoon. The resort also has the option of seeking monetary compensation instead of charges, MSP's Gorno said.
In a statement, UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the school is "very disappointed" in the behavior.
"UM staff members in the Office of Greek Life have begun meeting with the presidents of the fraternities and sororities involved," he said.
Asked to name which organizations were involved in the damage at Boyne, Fitzgerald said, "We are still sorting that out."
Additionally, the Greek Life student judiciary process will address the incidents and the local Greek chapters are notifying their national organizations, which could bring their own sanctions. And full payment is expected for all the damages, the UM spokesman said.
"We are confident the national organizations will take this seriously and will work through this situation in collaboration with the university," Fitzgerald said. "The individuals involved will be held accountable for their actions."