Peterson holds town halls with BSO students and allies

Amid concerns following the recent lifting of sanctions on Phi Delta Theta, President G.P. “Bud” Peterson held two informal town halls with members of Black Student Organizations (BSOs)
and allies.

Peterson began both events by outlining the sequence of events which occurred between the August racial incident and his decision to vacate the fraternity’s suspension. The Office of Student Integrity (OSI)’s process was initiated and the Undergraduate Judiciary Cabinet (UJC) found that the incident likely occurred but that Phi Delta Theta’s leadership was not complicit.

The UJC then proceeded to recommend a sanction of Suspension in Abeyance, which per Tech’s policies is to be levied on an organization only if its leaders are fostering environments of

The dissonance between this recommendation and Tech’s policies was not detected until former chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Leah Ward-Sears reviewed the case at Pres.
Peterson’s request.

Sears concluded in her assessment that the UJC process is fair and came to the correct conclusions about the Phi Delta Theta case but that the sanction was incorrect and should be vacated.

Pres. Peterson vacated the sanctions, and thereby lifted all sanctions on Phi Delta
Theta, on Feb. 24.

Students are now concerned about the future of the August complaint against the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, as well as the adequacy of the current Code of Conduct in handling issues of racism and intolerance.

A consistent concern among students in attendance was regarding the message sent by lifting sanctions when the incident was determined to have occurred.

“All of Tech’s leadership are committed to creating an environment that is safe, inclusive and welcoming of every student on campus, and we’ll continue to do that,” Peterson said. “We met with a number of Muslim students a few weeks ago to check in on their experiences.

“We had seven different ‘listening sessions’ to try to understand what the environment is like for women on this campus.

“We’ll continue with those activities, and this [town hall] is a part of that effort.

“[The racial incident] is not alright. We did not lift the sanctions because we believed it was alright. We lifted the sanctions because our policies preclude us from imposing sanctions in this
particular case.”

Peterson, as well as Dr. Archie Ervin, Vice President of Institute Diversity, stressed the importance of the Black Student Experience Task Force, which was created in August and whose final recommendations will be issued soon.

In addition, steps were taken during Greek Advance events to ensure that Greek leadership are aware of diversity issues and how best to prevent and address them.

One student inquired as to Peterson’s personal opinions on the Phi Delta Theta incident and
its resolution.

“I vacated the ruling and lifted the sanctions because that’s what our policy says,” Peterson said. “Are there things we could have done differently? Yes, I could think of a whole bunch of things … I wish this had never happened. It’s created a lot of angst for a lot of people, but we are a community, and that’s an important word.”

“We and the entire leadership at Tech are committed to creating not a tolerating environment, but an inclusive and welcoming environment for all students
here at Tech.”