UM student body leader calls for code of honor

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

The student body president of the University of Michigan on Sunday created a task force to help develop a student honor code in the wake the suspensions of six fraternities and sororities over vandalism allegations at two northern Michigan resorts.

Bobby Dishell, a senior who is president of Michigan's central student government, said the task force is intended to "encourage and motivate students to hold ourselves to a higher standard. He said he does not want to single out the Greek culture on campus. Recommendations are due no later than March 15.

"How can we hold ourselves accountable if there's no one standard to hold everyone to? There's no one standard that exists here."

Six fraternities and sororities were placed on suspension by their national offices after Treetops Resort in Gaylord and Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs reported that students allegedly had trashed rooms. Tens of thousands of dollars in damage to dozens of rooms rented Jan. 17-18, according to the resorts.

Sigma Alpha Mu, Pi Kappa and Chi Psi fraternities, and Sigma Delta Tau, Alpha Phi and Delata Gamma sororities were placed on suspension.

At Treetops, where 45 rooms were affected. Windows were broken, furniture damaged and rooms were littered with food and trash, a resort official said. At Boyne Highlands, 12 condos were damaged, including broken doors and holes in walls, according to officials there.

"We look forward to learning more about this Central Student Government initiative in the coming days," said Rick Fitzgerald, a spokesman for UM. He had no further comment.

The code would develop standards in areas such as academic integrity, personal behavior and interaction with other students. It would also "identify best practices for establishing student-led honor boards to adjudicate alleged violations of honor codes" and "ensure that all recommendations maximize protections for students' rights."

The task force is authorized, Dishell said, to work with other schools and student governments to develop the proposals.

The manager of Treetops and others have been pressing for criminal charges since the incident, which spanned 45 rooms and exceeded $50,000.

Dishell, Interfraternity Council President Alex Krupiak and Panhellenic Association President Maddy Walsh issued an open letter of apology following media coverage of the damage.

"This terrible incident has been widely publicized across the nation, and rightly so: it was an act of shocking disrespect," said the letter. "We, as leaders and Greeks at the University of Michigan, do not tolerate these kinds of acts, nor do we let such behavior fall under the radar. We intend to handle this situation with the utmost efficiency, and we will ensure that those responsible for the damage to the properties will be held accountable throughout this process.