All Fraternity and Sorority Program Executives were invited to a meeting in Willet Auditorium this evening regarding over $10,000 stolen from the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity (ATO) Camp for a Cause event in Spring 2022. According to ATO President Jacob Woods ‘25, who spoke on behalf of the Alpha Zeta chapter, the money was misappropriated by alumni Evans Hodges ‘22.
Hodges was the chapter's Philanthropy Chairman in April 2022. He allegedly deposited $11,410 out of the total $15,328 collected from the event that was raised by the organizations who participated into his personal account.
“Due to the lack of safeguards put into place by the chapter at the time, and negligence to the idea that somebody who we thought was our brother would do something like this, his actions were allowed to occur under our poor supervision, and for this I formally apologize on behalf of Alpha Tau Omega,” Woods said.
Camp for a Cause is an annual philanthropy event organized by ATO in which sororities and fraternities camp out on Cruz Plaza and compete to raise funds through participation, donations and team challenges. The money raised is divided up between the winning teams, who donate it to their organization’s philanthropy.
The Fraternity and Sorority Programs affected by Hodges’ theft are Phi Mu, Alpha Delta Pi, Chi Omega, Kappa Alpha Order, Phi Kappa Sigma and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
During the meeting, Woods laid out a timeline of past events and presented an action plan for the money to be returned to each chapter.
According to Woods, after the Camp for a Cause event ended on April 19, Hodges had reported that the third-party fundraising platform they used for the event, Crowd Change, had lost the money.
In Dec. 2022, the newly-elected ATO executive board made a further investigation into the missing funds. After partnering with Crowd Change, the board discovered 13 separate withdrawals from the Camp for a Cause 2022 account that were directly deposited to Hodges’ bank account and concluded he had stolen the money.
In March, the board attempted to contact Hodges and requested that return the misdirected funds. He did not respond. In April 2023, after being confronted at an alumni event, Hodges admitted guilt and agreed to the payment plan, signing a contract that admitted guilt and promised to pay back the money. In October of that year, he had paid back $8,500, but then he cut off all contact with ATO.
The new executive board formulated a plan of action, activating the acceleration clause in his contract. The clause states Hodges has until midnight Jan. 31 to pay back the remaining $2,900 before a warrant is put out for his arrest.
Woods assured those attending that the money raised from the Camp for a Cause 2023 event was distributed to all participating organizations, and a new platform for nonprofits was used called Givebutter.
“I can guarantee you this will never happen again thanks to the safeguards we’ve put into place now,” Woods said.
Givebutter only requires one business bank account to be linked to the Camp for a Cause page. ATO also passed a bylaw stating that all philanthropy money must be distributed to all organizations within two weeks after an event and that the philanthropy money would never again be linked to a personal bank account.
“At Alpha Tau Omega we believe that trust is hard to earn and easy to lose,” Woods said. “We also know that it's almost impossible to earn back, so I will not ask you to trust us again, but know that if you choose to, you won’t be trusting the same chapter from two years ago, but you’ll be trusting the ATO of today.”
Adam Penland '20, Assistant Director of Campus Life, was also present at the event to represent the office of student affairs.
According to Penland, the university was alerted to the incident two weeks ago when an official police report was filed. Since then, they have worked with the chapter to take the next steps and orchestrate an informational meeting.
“Student affairs were made aware of the situation and they appreciate everyone coming together as a community on such short notice to be informed of the issue,” Penland said.
Brady Kuester ‘25, Philanthropy Chair of Phi Mu, was among the students who stayed afterward to talk with the ATO executive board and ask questions.
“I think they (ATO) handled it extremely well, having us all here and being completely transparent and honest with all the organizations,” Kuester said.
While ATO is unable to pay the full amount of money back at this time, those affected have an option to accept a partial payout currently, or a full payout later once Hodges has paid back the remainder he agreed to pay. Additionally, ATO will forgo the five percent of the money they traditionally allot to a charity of their choice after the event, and instead put it towards the balance Hodges incurred.
Eliza Moore ‘24 is an English and Journalism student at Mercer University. She is now in her second year working as The Cluster’s News Editor after a semester abroad. She is currently producing work for Macon Magazine and Georgia Public Broadcasting in addition to her work with The Cluster. She loves breakfasts, the ocean, and all things related to writing.