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AEPi fraternity accused of hazing, president removed

Adam Glanzman/Daily
The Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house is seen above Wednesday night. The Fraternity is being investigated after multiple hazing allegations were brought to light. Buy this photo

By Yardain Amron, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 7, 2013

New hazing allegations have been lodged against the University’s chapter of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, the second claim in the past month. In response, the AEPi national organization removed LSA sophomore Andrew Koffsky, the chapter’s president, from his leadership position and has opened a formal investigation into the matter.

John Pierce, spokesman for the national AEPi organization, said Wednesday the latest allegations came forward in an anonymous e-mail. Pierce said he could not confirm or deny the veracity of the claims in the e-mail or provide any details about the message’s content.

“Sometimes reports like that are credible, and they are trying to protect themselves or trying to maintain some anonymity for fear of repercussions,” Pierce said. “In other cases, they’re competitive fraternities who are trying to get our fraternity in trouble.”

The Indiana-based organization acted swiftly on the allegations Tuesday, sending Koffsky a cease-and-desist letter that suspended his presidency that morning and dispatching Alex Mandel, a regional representative, to the University’s chapter house in the evening.

Mandel met with Music, Theatre & Dance sophomore Aaron Dombey, vice president of AEPi, and Kinesiology junior Carl Scheller, the fraternity’s treasurer, for more than three hours. Koffsky was not allowed into the meeting. Mandel avoided a reporter who attempted to reach him for comment near the fraternity house.

Pierce said there are grounds for removing a chapter president if the national office’s executive office “deems it an appropriate first step.” He added that the office deals with each allegation separately but do review a chapter’s overall reputation.

Thinking back to a previous statement made by national officials after the first set of hazing allegations, Koffsky said he feared the University’s chapter might be cut from the umbrella organization.

“They said, ‘Andrew, if we’re coming back later this year, for anything, for any reason at all, we’re ending your fraternity,’ ” Koffsky said.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said he could not confirm if the University was investigating the fraternity. If an investigation is underway, it is still in its infancy, he said.

“It’s really, really way too soon to draw any conclusions,” Fitzgerald said.

Kinesiology senior Michael Freedman, president of the Interfraternity Council, said he could not confirm the allegations. While IFC doesn’t condone inappropriate behavior like hazing, Freedman said the board will always advocate for its member chapters.

“We’re always going to support our IFC chapters, whether they’ve really messed up or not,” Freedman said.

The previous hazing allegations were made in early October and led to a personal visit to the fraternity house by Jim Fleischer, assistant executive director of the AEPi national organization.

Koffsky said Fleischer interviewed all 34 pledges to corroborate their stories. He also reviewed a Facebook group-chat between the pledges.

The Office of Greek Life also conducted its own investigation of the first allegations through its Hazing Task Force. The body was created in 2006 and is comprised of 14 to 18 students selected and elected from within the Greek system.

LSA junior Kristina Macek, current chair of the task force, wrote in an e-mail that any actions taken will be considered confidential for the time being.

“I will not and cannot confirm or deny if any hazing allegations, investigations or hearings have occurred throughout my term as chair of the Hazing Task Force,” Macek wrote.

A statement posted on the Hazing Task Force Facebook page around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday alluded to recent hazing allegations.

“In light of the increase in the number of hazing allegations, we would like to encourage all members of the Greek Community to consult the Hazing Policy, contact us, or contact the Office of Greek Life in order to determine if an activity, event, etc. is considered hazing before doing it. Ignorance is not an excuse to haze!!”

The post was later deleted.

It is unclear exactly what allegations were made against the AEPi fraternity, but Koffsky said that the initial set of hazing allegations were “unanimously” true — “like scarily so,” he added.

However, when interviewed by Greek Life officials, Koffsky said he and other AEPi brothers denied the allegations in early October.

“Essentially, we had to lie about everything,” Koffsky said.

Koffsky was one of four sophomore presidents across 30 IFC fraternities. As only a second-year student, Koffsky said he was overwhelmed in trying to manage 171 members, 34 pledges and an organization that operates on a budget of half a million dollars a year.

“You don't get prepared for any of it,” Koffsky said. “You’re thrown into the fire.”

In hindsight, with his chapter facing investigations, Koffsky said he would’ve chosen a different path if he could do it all again.

“Looking back on my decision to be the president of my fraternity, I probably would have heeded the advice of the people who came before me who said not to.”