Update: USC fraternity threatens to sue school, resume rush

Hundreds of students packed a meeting with USC officials on campus Monday. / Fraendy Clervaud

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Less than a week after University of South Carolina officials took the unprecedented step of ordering a campus-wide halt to fraternity recruitment due to alleged alcohol violations, the school is facing a possible lawsuit over the decision.

WACH FOX News has obtained a copy of a letter sent by Columbia attorney Todd Kincannon on behalf of at least one fraternity to USC President Harris Pastides Tuesday. That letter threatens to file suit against the university and its officials if the ban isn't lifted for fraternities not accused of violating alcohol rules.

The Daily Gamecock reports university officials now plan to let those fraternities not accused of alcohol violations issue bids to new members this Friday. However, fraternity presidents reportedly received an email Wednesday saying they will only be allowed to issue bids if they first sign a document agreeing to certain conditions.

Columbia attorney Ryan Lane of the Lane Law Firm, who is not involved with the case, points out the fraternity threatening the suit likely has a legitimate legal complaint against the school.

"I think the position of the counsel for the fraternities is a good position," said Lane of the potential lawsuit. "I think they have a leg to stand on. Since they are a private chapter and they do hold functions that are outside of the scope of the university, I think that the fraternities and this counsel have a good argument about basing it, that the university is infringing, impeding all of them from carrying out the duties of their fraternity. And it is not a USC organization."

USC halted rush for all 18 fraternities last week after officials cited six fraternities for alcohol violations, including at least one that sent a student to a hospital. Sororities were allowed to continue the annual recruitment process.

Kincannon declined to comment Tuesday citing the potential lawsuit, but he confirmed the authenticity of the letter and said he has been retained by at least one fraternity.

In the letter to President Pastides, Kincannon accuses the school of denying the due process rights of the 12 fraternities not accused of violating alcohol policy. The letter also claims the decision to sanction all fraternities, but not sororities, violates the portion of the U.S. Constitution that requires all citizens be treated equally under law.

Read more USC to hold campus meetings over frat rush freeze USC says "No" to fraternity rushes Clemson police test party registration system Clemson restricts frats, sororities over alcohol Universities try to control students off campus The decision to halt the process last week came just as fraternities were preparing to choose new members.

Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jerry Brewer told reporters Friday that USC officials met with fraternity chapter presidents and outlined their concern about the issue and how to move forward.

"We have a leadership crisis with our male students. We have to work with that and hopefully we can come up with answers. I know that's one of the initiatives that our president is challenging us with and we are going to work hard at it," said Brewer.

Hundreds of students also attended a Greek Council forum Monday aimed at finding ways to improve the rush process.

Kincannon's letter calls on USC to fire Brewer along with Director of Student Services Anna Edwards on the grounds that the order to halt fraternity rush allegedly violated the students' constitutional rights. The letter also claims their comments slandered students not accused of any wrongdoing.

Attorney Ryan Lane thinks the issue will be settled outside a court of law.

"This will probably end up being resolved between the parties, between the two sides," said Lane. "I think what will come out of this probably, and I don't want to make a factual statement, but I think what will come out of this maybe is some change on both sides. I think they'll make changes that will benefit all parties in the future."

USC spokeswoman Margaret Lamb said Tuesday the university has not yet received Kincannon's letter and the university doesn't comment on legal matters.

What do you think about this latest development in the standoff between USC officials and its fraternities? Did the school have the right to halt fraternity recruitment or did its actions deprive students of their rights? Please leave a comment below.