'U' releases report on hazing

BY ABBY STASSEN
Daily Staff Reporter
Published February 21, 2005

After an investigation into the fall allegations of hazing in the Greek community, the University released the investigation results Friday and found three fraternities and one sorority guilty of hazing.

Some types of hazing confirmed by the investigation included “smoking marijuana, induced consumption of food, blindfolding, dressing in arguably humiliating costumes, theft of property and trespassing.” According to the report, heavy alcohol consumption, humiliation and psychological harassment also occurred. However, the investigation did not find enough evidence for some of the accusations, including “pledges being placed in the trunks of cars; pledges being stripped to their underwear and left in a cold room; non-consensual sexual behavior; the theft of a road sign as a pledge requirement; and incidents of paddling and beating.”

Last semester, the University received tips about instances of hazing within different fraternities and sororities and conducted an investigation, as did the Ann Arbor Police Department, to discover the validity of these accusations.

While the AAPD could not act on the charges because no physical harm was inflicted — a requirement for prosecution under state law — the University’s investigation examined aspects of the hazing that violated the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities and mandated punitive measures for those Greek houses that had hazed pledges. The national chapter of the fraternity or sorority imposed some punishments, and IFC spokesman Jon Krasnov said the Greek Activities Review Panel was also proactive in determining what disciplinary measures should be taken.

According to the hazing report, Alpha Epsilon Phi was placed on social probation and must increase mandatory education as well as revise the new member education program — an educational experience for pledges in which they are taught the history and values of the fraternity or sorority. Fraternity Sigma Nu’s national organization questioned chapter members on an individual basis to see if they were representative of the fraternity’s values and imposed leadership training and the prohibition of alcohol consumption for a term. Zeta Beta Tau was fined, and the members must attend a risk management workshop. Delta Sigma Phi received the most severe punishment — its charter was revoked and it is no longer a fraternity at the University.

No students were punished individually for the incidents and instead leaders of the four chapters agreed to work with the University on a community education and development plan based on the individual goals and needs of each organization.

Each fraternity or sorority will also have to follow an improvement plan calling for “stronger institutional support and national involvement; retooling of the bid and pledge process; more extensive training for leadership and members; investigation into removal of some of the members; and changes in chapter leadership.” The plan intends to ensure that the group’s actual activities coincide with the values of their national organization.

The hazing report cited breakdowns in leadership, weak ties to alumni and insufficient upper-class student presence or leadership as some reasons why certain fraternities and sororities hazed.

“Some of the houses had sophomores as presidents, which usually means they haven’t lived in the house and they don’t really know much about the expectations and problems that might face them,” Dean of Students Sue Eklund said. “In some cases, you also might have a leader who isn’t being followed well. It’s not always the case that officers in the organization want the hazing to happen. Sometimes they happen despite their best efforts.”

The Greek community and the University have taken steps in the past few years to stop hazing before it starts. The Greek-letter councils established a hazing task force and an anonymous hotline for reporting incidents, the Greek community worked with the University and state legislators to establish the new state anti-hazing law and the University implemented the campus wide “Don’t Haze the Blue” poster campaign in fall 2004 to inform students about the law.

“Eliminating hazing is always atop Interfraternity Council’s agenda and it is essential to the livelihood of our community,” Krasnov said. “The IFC is always working to develop new methods to curb hazing and improve the efficiency of the hazing task force.”

According to Panhellenic Association spokeswoman Lindsey Fediuk, “The current IFC and Panhellenic executive boards genuinely believe that hazing is on the decline in both frequency and severity. We believe it is possible to eventually eliminate hazing on this campus through harsher consequences to hazing, an increased educational program for new members and providing safe alternatives for our members.”

Fediuk also encouraged anyone who knows of any hazing allegations to e-mail hazinghotline@umich.edu. All e-mail allegations will be kept anonymous.