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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA fraternities struggle with hazing allegations

Despite anti-hazing educational efforts by the UA, four fraternities have lost recognition over the last 15 months.

In January 2012, Phi Kappa Psi lost recognition after repeated instances of hazing over a period of time, according to a media statement. Next was Delta Chi in April 2012, Tau Kappa Epsilon in August 2012 and most recently, Pi Kappa Phi last month.

“We’re seeing persistent reports of hazing, regularly investigating kind of the same things, and so … if we keep seeing the same thing happening, it’s more likely than not that there’s high risk behavior,” said Chrissy Lieberman, associate dean of students. “If something then happens and I have the knowledge that high risk behavior was … pervasive in that organization, not only is that putting the president of the fraternity at huge risk, it’s also putting the university as a whole, because they’re affiliated with us.”

Each year during both fall and spring recruitment informational meetings, Greek Life members are educated about hazing and how to report it, according to Johanne Ives, assistant dean of students and director for Fraternity and Sorority Programs.

Greek Life chapters are asked to cover the hazing policy and their respective fraternity’s national policy. They then turn in a form signed by several chapter officers and the chapter adviser that acknowledges they’ve done the presentation, Ives said.

Additionally, all new members are asked to complete an online two-hour workshop on alcohol,
hazing and sexual assault each semester.

“Our Greek community is the most educated when it comes to hazing of all clubs and organizations,” Lieberman said.

But despite these efforts, hazing continues to be prevalent throughout organizations on campus.

“The problem with hazing education is that the more education there is, the more it gets reported, so we continue to educate the members, which means individuals, parents, other students will come forward and tell us about issues in the community,” said Jenny Nirh, senior coordinator for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Programs. “For some of the organizations, the hazing had been occurring for a long time, and it was through education that we were able to figure out what was going on, and then take methods to stop that.”

In some cases, hazing can be solved through educational programs and making sure the organization is working to establish rapport within the group. But other, extreme cases may be considered beyond educational measures, Nirh added.

While students may come to the UA with an expectation to be hazed and do not report it as much, seeing the loss of recognition suggests some students are taking it more seriously, according to Lieberman.

“Some family members are hearing about it; people are taking it to heart and calling us, and that’s what’s giving us the inside look,” Lieberman said. “We don’t go to chapter meetings. We’re not there for their initiation weeks, so we don’t know what’s really happening unless it’s reported to us.”

Closing a fraternity or sorority is a last resort, Ives said.

“We know that in the end that there are students who are going to be losing their chapter, losing their affiliation on this campus … but we do it because we feel like it’s the right decision,” Ives said.

But Robert Roberto, former president of the UA chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, criticized the investigation into the fraternity, saying the allegations of hazing dated back several years earlier.

“I don’t know what they knew exactly, because the university never really made an effort to contact me aside from putting my whole account [on] hold … so I couldn’t register for classes,” Roberto said. “But … overall I just don’t agree with what the UA did and the direction that they’re going for Greek Life.”

To Roberto, he said it seemed that the UA had already made its decision when the fraternity lost its recognition.

“I honestly don’t think they gave us enough time to try to work things out from closing us in January and telling us we were suspended in January,” Roberto said. “There’s only so much you can do in a week or two.”

As for the anti-hazing education provided by the UA, Billy Dimitri, former president of Tau Kappa Epsilon, said it didn’t click with anyone.

“It’s kind of just a formality in a sense,” Dimitri said. “Like it doesn’t really get across to people, if you ask me.”

Two days before rush, the Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter at the UA was ordered by email to cease all activities. About a month later, Dimitri said he received notice of final closure.

“I was very disappointed. I worked a lot to get us a new house, worked a lot on rush week, trying to make our fraternity grow, and then all of a sudden, it’s just gone,” Dimitri said.

Like Phi Kappa Psi, the allegations of hazing dated a few years prior to Dimitri’s presidency, he said.

“I just feel like they kind of give you a false sense of leadership, in a sense. Like they let you have your say but they already know what their decision is,” Dimitri said.

But the Dean of Students Office disputes criticisms from members of Greek Life.

“I think there’s a perception out there that we don’t support our Greek organizations, but we support quality Greek organizations,” Lieberman said.

Not only is hazing a concern for the health and safety of students, but the UA doesn’t want students to have an experience that will ultimately not be a success for them, Lieberman added.

“I can’t justify it. It just is what it is,” Lieberman said. “We’re holding people accountable for their behavior.”

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