University investigating off-campus social gathering


TORCH PHOTO / Brenden Willisch

An investigation by the Office of Student Conduct is taking place after a video of a social gathering that took place off-campus circulated on social media over the weekend.  A St. John’s University student posted the video on their Instagram story on Feb. 12, with a geotag that read “Sigma Pi Fraternity at St. John’s University,” alluding that the gathering was hosted by St. John’s fraternity Sigma Pi. 

The Office of Student Conduct told the Torch that the investigation will  identify whether students live at the Queens residence where the gathering took place and “what their involvement in the social gathering was,” according to Kathryn T. Hutchinson, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Affairs.

The video, which was approximately 5-seconds long, has since been deleted from Instagram. It appeared to depict dozens of people in a room without masks or social distancing. Asked about this video, Hutchinson says the University has received reports regarding an off-campus social gathering that took place on Feb. 12. 

Fraternity and Sorority Life did not respond to a request for comment from the Torch. Neither Hutchinson nor a University spokesperson addressed Sigma Pi’s possible involvement in the social gathering, but Hutchinson told the Torch, “Behavior attributable to Fraternity and Sorority Life organizations are addressed through the Student Organizations Conduct Process.”

The Torch reached out to Sigma Pi for comment regarding the matter. 

“The University is investigating an off-campus event that took place where students and non-students were in attendance,” Sigma Pi told the Torch in a message. 

“We are respecting the University’s policies and procedures regarding the investigation, and working with the relevant offices and University officials where appropriate,” Sigma Pi continued. 

Indoor and outdoor gatherings in New York state are limited to no more than 10 people at private residences, according to an executive order enacted by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Nov. 13. 

Hutchinson stated that students are required to follow University policy and behave accordingly. 

“Each student is responsible for their own behavior during this pandemic and are required to comply with the Johnnie Care Commitment,” she said. “Failure to abide by the expectations outlined in the document may result in a referral to the Office of Student Conduct.  The Office of Student Conduct reviews alleged violations of both the Student Code of Conduct and the Student Organizations Conduct Process.”

The Student Organization Conduct Process specifies organizational rights and sanctions.  Some of the reparations for organizations in violation of conduct include a fine, probation, suspension as an organization and loss of recognition.


This is a developing story. Check back for more.