Watch an earlier report on the Meola family’s wrongful death lawsuit in the video player above.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The formerly unrecognized fraternity where an Ohio State University student was fatally shot is recruiting new members as an official student organization.
Phi Kappa Psi has regained recognition as an Ohio State fraternity nearly five years after it was suspended for hazing and other conduct violations – and amid a federal lawsuit by the parents of a member who was killed outside a party at the then-unsanctioned fraternity house. Chapter leaders met several times with the university and national organization over the course of more than a year, Ohio State spokesperson Dave Isaacs said, to ensure the group can comply with university policy and state law.
“The university confirmed that the organization has definitive plans for successful recruitment, risk management, an academic plan, new member education and leadership development,” Isaacs said in an email.
In addition to applying for student organization status, the chapter had to confirm it can meet the following requirements, among others:
- Submit proof of “minimum expectations” for the chapter, including a risk management and harm reduction plan, proposal for each member to have at least five hours of community service each semester, and other service requirements
- Commit to 85% attendance in education programs on member development, inclusivity and risk management
- Monthly reporting on group meetings and new members to Ohio State Sorority and Fraternity Life
- New members have at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA and 12 completed college credit hours
Isaacs said the Interfraternity Council at Ohio State also requires re-registering chapters to sign an agreement outlining plans for recruitment, risk management and when the organization will return.
Phi Kappa Psi has regained its university recognition as it and the national Phi Kappa Psi organization face a federal lawsuit by the parents of Chase Meola, who was shot outside a party at the house of the then-suspended fraternity in October 2020. Meola’s parents claimed the Ohio State chapter, which was suspended in June 2018 for hazing, alcohol violations and endangering behavior, continued to operate as a fraternity by holding events with alcohol and otherwise engaging in “fraternity activities.”
The complaint, filed near the two-year anniversary of Meola’s death, argued Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, Inc. “tacitly ratified” the unsanctioned fraternity by not addressing its operation, or it should have known the group was illicitly claiming to be affiliated with the national organization. Both the chapter and national organization were responsible for keeping Meola and other fraternity members safe, the complaint alleges, and both entities failed to account for and safeguard against the “high levels of crime in and around” the fraternity house on East 14th and Indianola avenues.
“Phi Kappa Psi chapters around the country, including the Ohio State University chapter, repeatedly flouted, ignored and violated laws and standard of conduct designed to protect the safety and well-being of university students inside and outside of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity,” the lawsuit read. “The National Phi Kappa Psi negligently supervised its local branches and ratified this behavior.”
Neither the Ohio State chapter nor the national fraternity responded to requests for comment. Phi Kappa Psi has yet to reply to the Meola family’s complaint in court.
Kintie Mitchell, who was 18 at the time of the shooting, is accused of killing Meola. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and one count of having a weapon under disability and remains in Franklin County Jail on a $2.1 million bond.
The Meola family also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Ohio State for failing to adequately warn Meola and other students about the potential dangers of living off campus, but in February a judge dismissed the complaint, ruling Ohio State had no responsibility for what happened off its property at an unrecognized fraternity house.
As a university-recognized fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi can apply to be approved for second-year student housing, has a house director and receives other housing support from Ohio State, and is eligible to participate in recruitment and other Sorority and Fraternity Life events. Although Phi Kappa Psi is listed on Ohio State’s website of recognized fraternities and sororities, at the time of publication, the national organization did not list the chapter on its website.