As the term winds down, the Office of Student Conflict and Resolution is entering the final stage of its investigation into allegations of hazing within the Greek system.
University officials added that a statement can be expected in the near future, and that this statement will be followed by resolutions that may include plans to restructure the Greek system.
Last week, Interim LSA Dean Sue Eklund said she thinks that some allegations would be dropped. “As one would expect with the whole long list of allegations, some seem not to have had much substance behind them, or at least on further investigation did not seem to be hazing. Some just had a few twists. Some seem to have been well borne out through investigations,” she said.
She added now the office will be forming resolutions regarding the outcome of the investigation. She said meetings had been set up between OSCR staff and those fraternities and sororities still under investigation and said she hoped these could conclude before the end of the term.
The allegations, which were made public in late October, included seven incidents brought to the attention of Eklund and possibly one more given to OSCR. Incidents included reports of sexual coercion and forced consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol.
Eklund said the process has taken a long time due to the magnitude of the allegations and “because people’s lives are complicated.” The OSCR panel has conducted about 200 interviews during the investigation. Eklund said OSCR even hired a temporary employee to keep up with the investigation.
University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said in an e-mail that the statement released to the public would probably include “what the investigation found in the way of hazing” and which organizations will be held responsible. Individual names will most likely not be publicly released because of federal privacy laws regarding student records.
Peterson said the statement will include information about what steps will be taken as a result of the investigation’s findings.
Keith Elkin, the director of OSCR, said he expects the statement to include “at a minimum,” the information that some instances of hazing did occur. He said he expected the final resolution to encourage a “combination of penalties, educational interventions, a restructuring of the Greek system” and would involve a wide-ranging group of subjects, the including individuals involved, OSCR, the Office of Greek Life and national fraternity and sorority organizations.
Elkin said OSCR cannot take action against fraternity or sorority houses, as the office has no group jurisdiction. “Any action we would take pursuant to rights and responsibilities would have to be for individuals,” he said.
Both Elkin and Eklund said they hope the investigation can be resolved through the informal process. Elkin described the informal process as one in which all sides come to a joint resolution, “whereby the groups that we’re working with would agree on the approach that we’re going to take.” Eklund said under this system, parties would admit responsibility for hazing actions and agree to certain repercussions.
Should the group fail to reach an informal agreement, formal hearings will be required to establish culpability.
Police have said no criminal charges will be filed under last year’s anti-hazing law, which requires physical harm to result from hazing activities before charges can be pressed.
Elkin said the difference between the OSCR process and the Michigan law is that the University policy is broader and considers psychological and emotional damages such as humiliation and stress, rather than focusing strictly on physical injury.