Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity house on October 17th, 2019.

October 17, 2019

Cornell Places Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity on Probation for Hazing

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After an investigation found the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity hazed potential new members through activities such as blindfolding and “disproportionate” cleaning duties, the University placed the fraternity on probationary recognition for the fall semester.

The University considers hazing to be any activity undertaken, regardless of consent, as an implicit condition for membership in an organization that could be seen by a “reasonable person” as endangering the physical or mental health of an individual, or that vandalizes public or private property. The full definition can be found on Cornell’s hazing website.

The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life received a report in spring 2019 that the fraternity had engaged in behaviors deemed hazing during the spring and fall semesters of 2018, according to the Cornell’s Hazing Violations website.

The investigation found that during the new member education process, members of the fraternity engaged in a number of behaviors considered hazing, such as blindfolding new members, assigning “disproportionate” cleaning and sober monitoring duties to the new members and taking away their phones for a weekend.

Additionally, during one specific event, new members were instructed to find a “secret room.” According to the report, this was a “planned failure activity as there was no secret room.”

As a result of the findings of the investigation, the chapter is on probationary recognition for the rest of the fall semester, including social probation — meaning the fraternity is not able to host any social events for the duration of the probation. Previously, the chapter had been on a two-month “interim suspension” during the spring 2019 semester.

According to Cornell’s Recognition Policy for Fraternities and Sororities, probationary recognition may include “the temporary withdrawal of any or all of the Benefits of Full Recognition or the application of such other specific sanctions or limitations as may be deemed appropriate.”

If the chapter does not comply with the policies for Full Recognition Status by the expiration of the probationary recognition period, their University recognition will be withdrawn.

Phi Sigma Kappa and the University did not respond to The Sun’s requests for comment by the time of publication of this story.