Half of Miami fraternities under investigation

By Reis Thebault, Editor-in-Chief

An emergency closed-door meeting of Miami’s fraternity presidents Tuesday night sparked campus-wide rumors of hazing and brought attention to the university’s investigations of at least 12 fraternities — half of the university’s recognized chapters — and two sororities.

A Miami Student records request revealed that the Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution (OESCR) is investigating several allegations of hazing, prohibited use of alcohol and other violations of university policy during “rush” and “pledging.”

Records show that, since the spring semester began, fraternities Phi Kappa Tau, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Phi Gamma Delta, Pi Kappa Alpha, Phi Delta Theta, Delta Sigma Phi and Sigma Phi Epsilon have all been investigated or are currently under investigation.

It is unclear at this time why the university did not release records for the other fraternities it says it is investigating

Sororities Alpha Phi and Alpha Chi Omega have also faced allegations this semester.

After the meeting, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) announced that, in light of these investigations, every fraternity’s new member education, or “pledging,” process must be complete by today.

University officials hope this decision will curtail any additional hazing, said Jenny Levering, director of the Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

“We want people to be initiated so that period of time is cut short,” she said. “So that we reduce the risk of hazing taking place.”

Dean of Students Mike Curme, for the second time this semester, condemned this behavior by members of the Greek community.

“This is something that we’ve been trying to eliminate — this type of conduct associated with new member education,” he said. “That makes the reports of this even more deeply troubling and disturbing and disappointing because, in spite of those efforts, we had these allegations that the behavior still continues.”

He acknowledged that allegations such as these are a recurring trend and said the university must do a better job responding to them.

“So, what do we need to do? Our efforts haven’t been successful. We need to redouble our efforts and find ways to eliminate this kind of conduct,” he said.

The current investigations come after three fraternities were suspended last summer, making for a total of six unrecognized fraternity chapters at Miami.

Of the nine organizations for which The Student received disciplinary records, four were accused of hazing — Phi Kappa Tau, Phi Gamma Delta, Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Phi Epsilon.

After a hearing, the university found Phi Kappa Tau responsible for hazing — pledges were allegedly cleaning the rooms of fraternity members. Then, according to records, Curme informed the organization’s president, junior Robert Nigro, on Feb. 23 that the university received another report of hazing, beginning a new investigation of the fraternity.

Records show that Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) pledges are alleged to have been forced to “stay out all night and not return to their residence halls.” The fraternity had until Feb. 22 to appeal this alleged hazing violation, but it is unclear whether it has chosen to do so.

On Jan. 25, it was reported that a Sigma Phi Epsilon member invited people to his house to “help haze the new pledges.” After an investigation, the university was unable to prove this anonymous tip and the charges were dropped.

However, records show the university received another report that the chapter was hazing pledges and, just Wednesday, notified the president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, Michael Suponcic, that the fraternity would again be placed on suspension while allegations were investigated.

Hazing allegations against Phi Delta Theta were dismissed yesterday.

The university did dispel some of the swirling rumors, many of which were perpetuated through anonymous social media sites like Yik Yak.

Carole Johnson, university spokesperson, said she had not been informed of a student “flatlining” at the hospital as a result of alcohol consumption, nor had she heard of pledges being waterboarded.

Earlier this month, Curme sent an email to parents and family of Miami students, warning them of the possible hazing occurring in fraternities and sororities.

“If your son or daughter is a new member, ask them about their experience,” he wrote. “Is there anything associated with new member education that they would not want published on the front page of the student newspaper? If there is, it is almost certainly hazing.”

In an interview yesterday, Curme echoed a statement he made in January, when a spike in hospitalizations was also linked to rush.

“In light of our high expectations of our students, we can expect nothing less than to have the model Greek community in the nation,” he said.

Additional reporting by James Steinbauer.

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