Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity’s infamous charity Fight Night has been cancelled this year due to its alleged misconduct – a move that may threaten a non-profit’s ability to run its program.
Last quarter, the university placed PIKE on indefinite suspension, halting its ability to plan the popular event. In response, PIKE will attempt to recruit another organization to hold Fight Night for the sake of the charity, Say Yes to Kids Foundation at Primo Boxing Club Inc., for which PIKE raised approximately $10,000 last year.
“We are trying to convince the [university] that we can definitely still have [Fight Night] because it’s for a charity,” Former PIKE president and Fight Night coordinator Artemio Madrigal said. “Not only do we give the most money out of the Greek system, but people come from all over to watch [Fight Night]. It’s just kind of disappointing that this is happening.”
Fight Night raises thousands of dollars every year to help the Say Yes to Kids Foundation, held at the Primo Boxing Club in downtown Santa Barbara. Jean Pommier, program director, said her club runs on a low budget and operates primarily through volunteers to provide free boxing lessons for 25 to 40 children a night for six days per week.
“For the past year and half I have been battling cancer, so it was really hard for me because I am the person that does all the fundraising.” Pommier said. “I just barely kept the doors open. So we were really looking forward to Fight Night.”
While holding firm on PIKE’s suspension, Director of Greek Affairs Stephan Franklin said the fraternity could hold Fight Night next year, pending drastic improvements. In the meantime, Franklin said, the university is asking other Greek organizations for donations to aid the charity.
“They’ve had continuous violations of risk management policy to the point where it has exceeded probation,” Franklin said. “So we decided to step it up another level based on a comprehensive look at their behavior. … If you keep getting speeding tickets then someone is going to suspend your license.”
Franklin said the university chose to “indefinitely suspend” PIKE based on the fraternity’s long history of risk management violations, which according to the Greek Affairs website may include serving alcohol at social events, hazing and sexual abuse as well as fire, health and safety problems. Greek Affairs declined to state what policies had been violated.
PIKE President and Fight Night Coordinator Tyler Stauss said the risk management problems were caused by competition between PIKE and another fraternity.
“Rivalry with another fraternity led to the risk management problems,” said Stauss, a third-year business economics major. “It starts out in intramurals or athletics and just carries over and makes everything that we do competitive between us and other fraternities.”
While Madrigal did not comment on the specific occurrences that put PIKE on indefinite suspension, he said the fraternity had previously encountered conflict within the Greek system.
“Before there was some fighting between inner Greeks – that’s the big issue,” said Madrigal, a fourth-year law & society major. “What they have is basically a history issue … on our frat causing a lot of trouble. Personally I don’t think that should be an issue because the guys that were here four years ago are gone.”
Stauss said PIKE put themselves on probation shortly before Spring Break. Stauss said PIKE would try to improve relations with the campus, the community and other fraternities.
“In an effort to get Fight Night to happen, we came up with this list of things we were going to do and put ourselves on self-imposed probation,” Stauss said.
PIKE began Fight Night 15 years ago, and has grossed thousands of dollars in donations for the charity, which relies heavily on the funding.
“I need Fight Night like people need water,” Pommier said. “It is our responsibility that a program that has been in this town for so many years, and has helped so many kids, doesn’t close.”
Franklin said no other fraternities are currently on indefinite suspension, though some Greek organizations that have been suspended in the past have lost their campus recognition based on similar violations. This includes Sigma Chi and Lambda Phi Epsilon. He said PIKE could potentially lose its recognition if its behavior does not improve, barring its ability to display its letters and recruit on campus.
“The thing is not to hurt the boxing club, that is not the goal here,” Franklin said. “The goal is to help Pi Kappa Alpha right the ship.”