Four Greek groups sanctioned for hazing last fall

Amanda Young

Four Greek organizations are suffering the consequences after being sanctioned by WKU last semester, a higher incidence of punishment than any other semester in several years.

Kappa Delta sorority, Kappa Alpha Order fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity were all cited for hazing and “organizing, sponsoring, implementing or conducting programs or activities which are violations of the law or university regulations,” according to the official sanctions provided to the Herald.

The Alphas have lost all university recognition until Aug. 15, 2013, and cannot participate in any university-sanctioned events nor recruit new members until after this date, according to an undated letter to the Alphas from Charley Pride, director of Student Activities and Organizations.

The KAs and SAEs have lost recognition as a student organization until May 14, cannot participate in WKU Greek events until May and cannot recruit new members until fall 2012, according to undated letters to the individual fraternities from Pride.

Kappa Delta, the only sorority cited last semester, is on probation until May 14, according to a letter from Pride. The chapter must also participate in two educational programs — one of which must focus on hazing, and each active member at the time of the incident must complete two hours of community service by March 9. The chapter is also ineligible for achievement awards.

Individual student records of all involved are protected by federal law and could not be released.

Sanctions, official punishments handed down from the university to organizations, can range from losing privileges to being expelled from campus.

“The most severe sanction that an organization would ever receive is if the institution expels them,” Howard Bailey, vice president for Student Affairs said. “More often than not, universities will suspend an organization for a period of time. They cannot participate in any activities. They’re shut down.”

Presidents from all of the organizations involved have declined to comment on the sanctions.

“The purpose of student organizations is to develop relationships and camaraderie,” Bailey said. “We try to match the sanction with the violation.”

Bailey declined to go into specific details of the incidents.

The process that an organization goes through during a sanction is long and involves many different parties. When an incident is reported, it must be investigated by the university, a group of local alumni and the national organization, Bailey said.

“You’ve got a tripod of entities looking into the matter,” Bailey said. “Sometimes the national organization will want to take a soft approach when the university wants to take a more severe approach. They can hopefully get on the same page as to what needs to occur.”

Pride said that having four sanctioned organizations in a semester is “more than we’re used to.”

“It goes in cycles,” Pride said. “We have a group that tested the boundaries of what is acceptable. They may have been doing this for the past couple of years, and each year it got worse until something went wrong.”

In Kentucky, as well as most other states, hazing is a misdemeanor, Bailey said. In some states, such as Florida, hazing is a felony.

“The police don’t usually want to deal with it,” Bailey said. “When it’s all said and done, (the organizations) march down to the court house and pay a fine like a traffic ticket and move on.”

Even though there is no tolerance for hazing at WKU, Bailey said it can be very hard to pinpoint exactly what happened when a hazing incident occurs, especially in sororities.

“Sorority hazing is less likely to occur, and it is usually more difficult to investigate and give a clear picture of what went on,” Bailey said. “Women are less likely to use physical abuse. They’ll do things that will psychologically frighten students.”

Pride said that Student Affairs will continue with Greek education on hazing prevention and hope that other organizations will learn from what happened to the organizations last semester.

“We will continue to educate them and let them see that this can happen to any group,” Pride said. “If they see that something can happen to anybody, maybe they will learn from other people’s mistakes.”

Bailey said abuse is not a training method.

“Hazing usually involves individuals who want to follow silly traditions or they have sadistic egos and like to harass other human beings,” he said. “I was hazed when I was in undergraduate school. I know that it doesn’t have any value in it.”