Jan 212008
Authors: Erik Myers

Members of CSU’s ousted Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) fraternity are facing a potential $4.5 million lawsuit after what a property manager called a crazy weekend of partying and destruction that left his company in financial crisis.

Ben Irvin, president of lodging corporation Western Seasons, said the fraternity rented 15 units in The Borders Lodge in Beaver Creek for the weekend of Nov. 9, falsely identifying themselves as a group of CSU graduates, the “Northern PIKE Alumni Group.”

Over the next three days, the group Irvin refers to as “weekend terrorists,” dealt nearly $11,000 in damages to the hotel, the property manager said. Significant reports of damage include rooms trashed with vomit and broken glass, as well as three elevators with slashed paneling and scrawled with profanity.

The alleged trail of destruction, however, may veer beyond physical damages. Western Seasons’ three-year management and rental contract with The Borders Lodge expired in early December and is currently undergoing negotiation with its Board of Directors. The PIKE incident has threatened the contract’s renewal, Irvin said, and his business would lose $4.5 million in income should a renewal fall through.

Irvin says his pending lawsuit would protect those whose lives would be devastated by the loss of income.

“They’ve done damage that has not only affected me monetarily, but on the people that work in my lodge: legal immigrants, young people, single mothers, people who are trying to make it in the world,” Irvin said.

Even if the contract is renewed, Irvin says he will file a $20,000 suit against the fraternity, along with criminal charges towards individuals.

Irvin said members of the fraternity have been non-responsive in his attempts to communicate.

When presented with the charges, Eric Tarvella, a senior health and exercise major, presented a credit card that Irvin says has been repeatedly denied when charged. Irvin says that PIKE president, T.J. Sheahen, previously refused to discuss the damages with him, and offered hapless resolutions since.

“He said the chapter would be performing its own local-based investigation into the incident,” Irvin said. “I had to laugh. I told him ‘You’re one of the ones who booked a unit. What’s the point of an investigation when the president is involved?'”

Obtained receipts show that Tarvella and Sheahen, among other members of the fraternity, had rented individual units at The Borders Lodge.

Despite the lack of communication with the local chapter, Irvin has had little trouble communicating with officials from PIKE’s national organization.

Last Thursday, Justin Buck, executive director of PIKE International Fraternity, contacted Irvin regarding the incident. In an e-mail, Buck expressed his apologies and his concern over the apparent link between the damages and the members of the fraternity and said investigation was imminent.

“I have contacted the chapter officers with respect to this incident and have demanded a response and plan of action,” Buck wrote in the e-mail. “I will also see what appropriate action against individuals or the Chapter may be taken, in accordance with our established procedures, as a result of any violations of our values and standards.”

Irvin says he has also received an email from CSU officials, saying the university has offered him assistance in his investigation. Dell Rae Mollenberg, CSU spokesperson, issued a press release regarding the incident late last week.

“The university encourages those affected by the incidents in Beaver Creek to air their concerns with the national PIKE organization,” Mollenberg wrote in the release. “In situations such as this that involve current students, the university can consider disciplinary action against individuals.”

PIKE has existed under a banner of notoriety since the university stripped the chapter of recognition in 2005, following the revelations of “Rise and Ralph” hazing, in which pledges were forced to drink until vomiting. Early last semester, PIKE members were booted from the Greek Move-In program, a privilege they lost when stripped of recognition. The fraternity, however, continues to boast strong recruitment numbers, claiming to host the largest pledge class for the past three years.

Sheahen and Tarvella did not return weekend phone calls made by the Collegian.

News Editor Erik Myers can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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