January 24, 2010

After Hospitalizing Three Rushees, Pike Fraternity Subject to Police Investigation

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Cornell’s Beta Theta chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) had its University recognition temporarily suspended Friday, pending further investigation of an incident at a recruitment event that sent three students to the hospital. Pike has been ordered to desist from all fraternity activities including recruitment, according to the University. The Ithaca Police Department, along with Cornell Police and the University, are investigating the incident.

Outgoing IFC president Eddie Rooker ’09 issued a statement announcing Pike’s suspension and promoting safety for future recruitment practices.

“This incident is being taken very seriously and will likely have repercussions that effect the entire system,” Rooker wrote in the statement.

The incoming IFC executive board takes office today, so any changes to the IFC constitution would fall upon the incoming president, Allen Miller ’11.

“No big decisions will be made until the Fraternity and Sorority Review Board meets this coming week,” Miller said. In the meantime, Pike is under temporary suspension, which means that they cannot hold any events on or off campus.

According to Miller, the IFC, the University and the IPD are still in the “fact-finding” stage of the investigation.

Pike acted in a “very unsafe and very unhealthy way,” according to Miller. Instead of taking advantage of Cornell’s medical amnesty policy and calling an ambulance, Pike brothers decided to drive the endangered students to the hospital themselves. The hospitalizations took place between the hours of 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., during which time the IFC allows registered events and conducts scheduled checks.

Susan Murphy, Cornell’s vice president for student and academic services, issued a statement to the University.

“We are concerned about the health and welfare of our students, and we take reports like this very seriously,” Murphy said. “Cornell is committed to helping educate students on making wise choices about alcohol consumption and avoiding risky behavior. We also are committed to eliminating hazing practices within student organizations and we’ve incorporated that into university policy, while providing information and educational resources on responsible behavior to our campus community.”

Rooker also stressed student safety during recruitment events.

“The health and wellness of all individuals attending [IFC] events should be a priority at all times,” Rooker said.

Philip Van Der Made ’10, outgoing judicial V.P. for the IFC, called the issue “confidential” and refused to issue a statement. Mike Gottlieb ’12, Pike’s acting social chair, also refused comment.

Pike’s national chapter’s response to the issue is not yet clear, though the chapter takes hazing very seriously.

“Pi Kappa Alpha recognizes the danger hazing poses for individuals and the detrimental effect hazing inherently has on organizations. Undergraduate delegates to numerous Inter­national Conventions have repeatedly adopted legislation denouncing hazing,” Pike’s national policy states.

Travis Apgar, associate dean of students for fraternity and sorority affairs, was unwilling to expand on the University’s press release.

Cornell’s Greek system has had its share of bad publicity in the past week. The blog Ivy Gate, which featured many posts about Pike’s suspension, had campus buzzing after the dress code for sorority recruitment at Pi Beta Phi’s New York Delta chapter was leaked. The six page document criticized certain fashion choices that girls make during rush week and detailed the do’s and don’ts about what to wear to make the best first impression.

But Cornell’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs still has high ideals.

“We will continue to strive towards becoming an example of excellence, and play our part in defining the next evolution of Greek life,” Apgar stated on the office’s website.

Original Author: Dani Neuharth-Keusch