By Shifra Dayak and Akshaj Gaur

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to better reflect Wynn Smiley’s statement on this university’s investigation.

Four University of Maryland fraternities are petitioning the U.S. District Court of Maryland for a temporary restraining order against multiple university administrators, according to a Wednesday press release from the Lafayette Company.

The petition names four university administrators as defendants, the release said, including university president Darryll Pines, student affairs vice president Patty Perillo, student conduct director James Bond and assistant vice president for engagement James McShay.

The plaintiffs are this university’s Theta Chi, Kappa Alpha Order, Alpha Sigma Phi and Alpha Tau Omega fraternity chapters along with other anonymous students designated as “John Does,” according to the release. The four chapters did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The restraining order would prevent this university from imposing restrictions on “ordinary social and philanthropic activity” outlined in a March 1 email to Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association fraternity and sorority chapters. Those restrictions currently prohibit IFC and PHA chapters from holding events with alcohol and contacting new members about fraternity and sorority-related matters.

[UMD hires consulting firm to interview IFC, PHA members for Greek life investigation]

In the March 1 email, authored by Bond and McShay, this university announced a cease and desist on all IFC and PHC fraternity and sorority chapters, citing allegations of hazing-related behavior. In an email addressed to IFC and PHA members on Friday, this university said it hired a consulting firm to conduct interviews with members this week as part of its investigation.

“We have never seen such an egregious abuse of power in higher education administration,” Wynn Smiley, a spokesperson for the national organization Fraternity Forward Coalition, said in Wednesday’s release. “They launched a dragnet operation that infringes students’ civil liberties and subverts the school’s own administrative procedures.”

Ohio-based law firm Manley Burke will represent the plaintiffs, the release said. The firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Fraternity Forward Coalition previously requested that this university lift the cease and desist order on IFC and PHA chapters, Smiley told The Diamondback. The order is a violation of students’ First Amendment rights to speech and association, Smiley said.

Smiley also said this university’s investigation is a “violation of [student] rights.” 

“Our assessment is they have no specific allegations,” Smiley told The Diamondback. “They are simply doing a fishing expedition to try and find something to justify this investigation.”

This university has not seen a legal filing for this petition and declined to comment on the release, according to an email to The Diamondback from a university spokesperson.

This story is developing and will be updated.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated that the Lafayette Company’s news release was published March 12. This story has been updated.