Miami University’s Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution (OESCR) is bringing in outside help to investigate reports of hazing in Miami fraternities.
Multiple outside investigators are assisting Jerry Olsen, Miami’s Title IX investigator, after the university received multiple reports of hazing this semester, said OESCR director Susan Vaughn.
On Tuesday, Miami’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) announced that all fraternity activities would be suspended indefinitely. Chapters were also directed to have all of their new members initiated by Friday at 5 p.m., ending the new member period several weeks early.
In a release, IFC called the alleged actions “antithetical to the pillars of Greek life” and noted that university investigations would begin “immediately.”
Vaughn said she could not specify how many or which fraternity chapters are under investigation.
“Our goal is to move through these as quickly as we can, but, when we are doing interviews, it could be one or
two people, or if we have a significant amount of information, we might have to talk to an entire chapter,” Vaughn said. “So, it wouldn’t really be fair to say there are two or 20 under investigation.”
As of Monday afternoon, no one had come forward to report hazing to the Oxford Police, said OPD chief John Jones. The incidents they have investigated have been reported through EthicsPoint, an online portal which allows students and faculty to submit reports of misconduct anonymously.
While Miami has more leeway in looking into these cases, Jones said, police need named complainants in order to move forward with a criminal investigation.
“If people have information on these crimes, they need to come forward and report it,” said Jones. “But, given the nature of the crimes, it’s sometimes difficult for the victims to do that.”
Six national fraternal organizations have filed cease-and-desist orders against their Miami University chapters. IFC Vice President Lorenzo Guidi said the national organizations will be sending representatives to the Miami chapters.
Chapters under a cease-and-desist order were not permitted to initiate their new members.
The six are: Alpha Delta Phi (AD Phi), Alpha Sigma Phi (Alpha Sig), Phi Delta Theta (Phi Delt), Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) , Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) and Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE).
“[The six fraternities] must abide by the restrictions outlined by their national organizations while investigations are completed,” university spokeswoman Claire Wagner said.
“And it’s unfortunate that this happens because A) if you’re playing with students’ safety there’s no room for that and B) you’re tarnishing the reputation of those fraternity members who really are interested in student leadership and philanthropy and doing good things,” Wagner said.
Previously approved parent and family weekends, philanthropic and service activities may continue, though fraternities will not be allowed to host any other social events.
All new IFC initiates are required to attend new member convocation and Greeks Step Up programming as usual.
For Miami’s seventeen sororities, overseen by the Panhellenic Association, normal programming can continue, although the sororities may be indirectly affected by the inability of fraternities to participate in some combined social events.
“In this situation, we’re kind of separate from IFC,” said Panhellenic president Emily Wolfzorn. “We’re still supporting them in every way, and they’re still part of our community, of course, but this was really an internal thing for IFC.”
IFC was unable to estimate how long it will take the university to investigate the reports.
“We’re not sure of any sort of timetable at this point,” said Guidi.
The university supports IFC’s decision to suspend fraternity activities, Miami University president Greg Crawford wrote in a statement.
“We believe this is a productive first step, but not the only step we will take to address our concerns and keep our students safe,” Crawford wrote. “We are investigating multiple reports of misconduct involving hazing and have shared those reports with Oxford Police, because hazing is a criminal act.”
In Ohio, hazing is defined as “doing any act or coercing another, including the victim, to do any act of initiation into any student or other organization that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm to any person.”
For those found guilty in Ohio, it is a fourth degree misdemeanor.
Anyone who suspects or knows of occurrences of student misconduct may report to Miami University Police at 513-529-2222, or Oxford police at 513-524-5240.
Check miamistudent.net throughout the week for updates on this story.