March 3, 2013

Three Cornell Fraternities Suspended Due to Hazing Allegations

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As a result of hazing allegations made this past week through Cornell’s online anonymous hazing-prevention website, three fraternities — Sigma Nu, Chi Psi and Delta Phi — were suspended, the University announced Sunday.

Sigma Nu fraternity was placed on interim suspension by both Cornell and the national headquarters of the fraternity, Chi Psi fraternity was placed on suspension by the national headquarters of the fraternity and Delta Phi fraternity was placed on interim suspension by Cornell.

Both Sigma Nu and Delta Phi had their statuses changed as a result of “credible allegations of serious physical hazing,” while Chi Psi’s status was changed as a result of “credible allegations of serious hazing,” according to a University press release.

According to Travis Apgar, associate dean of students for fraternity and sorority affairs, the hazing reported at Chi Psi was a “more psychological kind of hazing” as opposed to the “physical hazing” reported at Sigma Nu and Delta Phi.

The presidents of Delta Phi, Sigma Nu and Chi Psi were either unavailable for comment or declined to comment Sunday night.

Apgar noted that the timing of the allegations — which occured during the last week of a six week-long new member period — could be important.

“Some organizations may have found it difficult in the final week in particular because some groups have had a tradition of a difficult final week, sometimes referred to as ‘hell week’ or ‘initiation week,’” Apgar said. “That may have played a role [in the timing of the hazing allegations]; it’s hard to know at this time.”

Jake Benedict ’14, vice president for judicial affairs for the Interfraternity Council, said that the timing of the allegations was significant.

“Obviously the week [the hazing allegations] happened, it’s no coincidence that [they occured] the week before initiation,” Benedict said. He said that the allegations also could have been uncovered due to increased judicial enforcement of the Greek system, saying “we may be uncovering things we weren’t uncovering before.”

Apgar said the three fraternities could face separate judicial processes through their national organizations, the Greek system and the University, “depending on how much information we have and how egregious the information is.”

“It depends on what is determined during the fact finding process,” Apgar said. “That process will be discussed between our office, the Greek Judicial Board chairs and the national organizations to determine what the proper judicial path willl be. It is unlikely chapters will be adjudicated by all three possible processes. It is more likely it will be either Greek Judicial Board or Review Board, and the nationals will likely conduct their own process.”

While the Greek judicial process is a judicial process carried out by a body of peers, the University adjudication process includes not only students but also staff and faculty, and determines whether a fraternity will keep its recognition, according to Apgar.

Apgar said there is definitively “no way to know” when the three fraternity chapters will be off suspension, although he said the University would be responsive to the allegations.

“We will act swiftly and will have a final outcome for these organizations in the very near future,” Apgar said.

Benedict said the interim suspensions are “not any indication of guilt.”

“At the same time, [the allegations are] concerning enough that we don’t want to allow anything further to continue until we have a better understanding of the situation,” Benedict said. He said that the Judicial Board will not be hearing any of the three cases this week.

IFC President Colin Foley ’14 said that the University’s recent judicial actions against the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity and Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity reflect the University’s increased regulation of interactions between freshmen and the Greek system.

“The University has continued to step up in seriousness as this plan has gone along. We had to anticipate some stricter penalties coming down,” Foley who is a member of the Chi Psi fraternity, said. “Yes, it is getting increasingly strict here.”

Original Author: Emma Court