Hilliard also explained that Delta Chi, as well as a handful of other fraternities that belong to the Interfraternity Council, have had no technical affiliation with the university since 2005, when Delta Chi and a few other fraternities refused to sign an agreement offered by the university.
Hilliard said the fraternities balked at three stipulations: one that banned hazing, one that required a live-in adult supervisor in a fraternity house; and one that moved the annual rush to the spring semester.
While the university is not yet ready to abolish fraternities altogether, the university and chancellor G.P. "Bud" Peterson are taking the incident very seriously, according to Hilliard.
"We're not trying to be killjoys here. We're not trying to drive Greek life out of Boulder," Hilliard said. "We're just saying live up to your ideals. Not every fraternity in Boulder is like this, but we've had a critical mass of these types of incidents over the past five years."
It's been a bad year for fraternities in Boulder, starting with the high-profile death of Lynn Gordon Bailey Jr. in September 2004. Bailey was found dead at the Chi Psi fraternity house the morning after he and 26 other pledges had reportedly been encouraged to drink several bottles of alcohol while at a party held in a national forest.
"They were told, 'No one is leaving here until these are gone,'" according to a description of Bailey's death posted on the Web site of a foundation his family set up to raise awareness about the dangers of binge drinking.
Back at the fraternity house, "He was placed on a couch to 'sleep it off'' at approximately 11 p.m.," the account says. "Racial slurs and other demeaning sayings were written on his body in another fraternity ritual. Gordie was left to 'sleep it off' for 10 hours before he was found dead the next morning, facedown on the floor. No one had called for help."
And last December, Christopher Kline, the president of Boulder's Interfraternity Council and brother at another fraternity, was arrested on cocaine possession charges after he dropped a small bag of white powder while talking to a police officer outside the Delta Chi fraternity house. He admitted to police the substance was cocaine, according to Boulder's Daily Camera newspaper, but denied that it belonged to him.
Hilliard blamed the spike in students' over-the-top behavior to broad cultural shifts that celebrate excess and pushing the envelope -- like on the television program "Jackass" -- and give students easy ways to exhibit that behavior, on Web sites like Facebook and MySpace.
He also said that all the blame should not lie on the university, which has a two-strike-and-you're-out drinking policy. "Their values about partying and drinking and drugs and sex and that nature are already pretty much formed when they get here," he said. "We're already fighting an uphill battle in many ways when they arrive on our doorstep."
UC Boulder is hardly the only college dealing with problematic fraternity behavior. Parents of a student at Rider University in New Jersey recently sued the school when their son died last March after a drinking-related hazing.
And three fraternity brothers at Clemson University were charged last month with alcohol-related misdemeanors after a freshman died in December of alcohol poisoning during an off-campus party.
And it's not just alcohol-related deaths. In 2005, a fraternity pledge at California State University at Chico died from water poisoning after he drank too much H2O during another hazing ritual. The same thing happened to a freshman at State University of New York College at Plattsburgh in March 2003.
Galbreth said that Delta Chi's national chapter has sent a representative to interview the pledges and brothers involved in the Boulder motel mayhem.
The preamble to the group's charter, he said, emphasizes character development and the advancement of justice.
For the nine pledges facing criminal charges, those are the two qualities in which they fell drastically short.