Blog : Fraternities

After Sit-In, Fraternities No More at Swarthmore

Inside Higher ED | By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf  | May 2, 2019

After students occupied one of the Greek houses on campus for four days, protesting a long history of accusations against them, the two chapters at the college dissolved themselves.

Swarthmore College’s only two fraternities have disbanded, following days-long protests and the leak of internal documents from one of the chapters in which its members boasted about sexual violence and expressed bigoted views.

Student activists stormed one of the fraternity houses, which the college had leased to Phi Psi, on Saturday afternoon. There they remained, both on the main level of the quaint stone building in the center of campus and in tents pitched around the yard. Students accused administrators of ignoring the sexual assaults they said took place in the house.

In the released documents, Phi Psi brothers called the bedroom in the upstairs of the home a “rape attic.”While allegations of rape have hounded Phi Psi for years, the troubles on campus began after a handful of students put together a blog chronicling anonymous students’ stories of being harassed or assaulted by fraternity members. One of the students who started the project said the students had received more than 100 submissions, not just from students at Swarthmore, known for its academic rigor and its Quaker roots, but also from the two other institutions in the Tri-College Consortium, Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College.

After the blog gained some attention, two student-run publications, the Phoenix and Voices, last month published more than 100 pages of what appear to be Phi Psi meeting “minutes” from 2012 to 2016. The logs detail explicit behavior and racial prejudice by fraternity members.

More than 100 students overtook the Phi Psi house on Saturday, and the same day President Valerie Smith informed the campus that she would block fraternity activities until an investigation into the documents had finished. The investigation will be conducted by Christine Wechsler, a lawyer with the Pennsylvania-based firm Elliot Greenleaf. Wechsler was previously part of the Pennsylvania governor’s Office of General Counsel. She will review the documents and determine if any current students may be implicated in policy violations and identify activities that may be ongoing and infringe on federal or state laws or college rules.

After initially disavowing the documents — while also claiming that the trends had not continued with the current crop of members — Phi Psi late Tuesday stated on Facebook it would dissolve and turn the house back over to the college.“We cannot in good conscience be members of an organization with such a painful history, “ the members wrote on Facebook. “Since the start of our membership, we made it our mission to improve the culture and perception of Phi Psi. Unfortunately, the wounds are too deep to repair, and the best course of action for all those involved is to disband the fraternity completely.”Though not the primary target of student ire, the campus’ other fraternity, Delta Upsilon, also announced on Tuesday that it would disband.“After much discussion, the members of Delta Upsilon have unanimously decided that disbanding our fraternity is in the best interest of the Swarthmore community,” the fraternity wrote on Facebook. “We hope that our former house will provide a space that is inclusive, safe, and promotes healing.”What will become of the buildings, which for many years have housed the fraternities, remains unclear. Students had demanded that they be converted into spaces that would cater to minority students on campus, or as one activist phrased it, those factions that had been “victimized” by the fraternities.

A spokesman did not respond to request for comment about the future of the buildings and other questions.

Swarthmore is in the midst of studying its now even further shrunken Greek system. Only one sorority remains on campus. The committee conducting that work will still continue it, Smith said in a message to campus Wednesday.“Still, as a community, we have much healing to do,” Smith said in a statement. “We have heard heartbreaking stories from students who feel unwelcome to the point of wanting to transfer out of our community. Those stories have come from across the spectrum of our student body — from student protesters to fraternity members. Stories such as these reflect our failure to realize the values we so often espouse.”Smith stressed that the college would investigate any reports of sexual violence that reached officials. Swarthmore has long struggled with its handling of sexual assault cases. It was subject to a highly controversial and publicized complaint under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal sex antidiscrimination law, in 2013.

And students have protested the college’s response to sexual assault before. Last May, students participated in a sit-in over Title IX issues, and eventually the dean of students who was criticized during the demonstrations resigned.

The fraternities also have come under fire. In 2013, students voted down a referendum measure to ban Greek life from Swarthmore. The same year, Phi Psi was blasted for circulating recruitment materials that featured naked women. The fraternity was suspended in 2016 for alcohol violations and resumed hosting parties last year.

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Students sings songs inside the Phi Psi fraternity on Swarthmore College's campus. The protesters occupied the fraternity house in protest.

As of Thursday, dozens of activists ramped up their protest by moving a sit-in from the Phi Psi fraternity house to outside the school president’s office, a move that preceded the college calling in Swarthmore Borough police, though no one was arrested as of Thursday afternoon. A college spokesperson says president Valerie Smith is willing to meet with the protesters if they vacate her office, but they said they have no plans to leave.

The protesters didn’t come empty-handed. They brought five boxes of signs they say once adorned the walls of the fraternity house they occupied as a symbolic “move-out.” A sampling of what is now in the administration building: a Natural Light banner, a stop sign, a Marlboro cigarettes advertisement, a Dogfish Head craft beer sign, and a Haverford Athletics posting that reads, “No running in the grandstand.”

In a statement, president Valerie Smith condemned the language used in the documents and promised an investigation into whether any current students were involved in the illegal behavior described. She also stated a task force convened to examine Greek life on Swarthmore’s campus would issue recommendations to her by today.

Maya Henry, a junior with Organizing for Survivors, the advocacy group behind the sit-in said the activists want to sit in the president’s office until she makes her decision. They’re concerned the school will push off making a choice until summer when many of the school’s 1,600 students won’t be on campus. Classes end Friday; final exams take place the week of May 9.

“If the college doesn’t take a formal stance against fraternities, then at any time they can decide to come back,” Henry said. “It’s not about these particular fraternity brothers right now. It’s the whole system that repeats itself because this is the nature of fraternities.”

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Ohio University Expels Sigma Pi Chapter after Collin Wiant’s Death

45 Mill Street -- student diedOhio University announced Tuesday that the local chapter of the Sigma Pi fraternity is now permanently “expelled” from campus, for multiple policy violations regarding hazing and alcohol use. This comes after the university’s investigation into Sigma Pi after the death of Collin Wiant.

The fraternity was found, through a preponderance of evidence standard, to have violated 10 different statutes in the Student Code of Conduct that included: Hazing, Alcohol Violations, Controlled Substance/Drug Violation, and Harmful Behavior.

The fraternity chapter appealed the results of the hearing to a university appeal hearing board, as well as to the VP for Student Affairs…but the appeal was denied. #stophazing

Read the redacted Sigma Pi outcome letter Here.

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Swarthmore College Students – Angry Over Reports of Sexual Violence and Leaked Fraternity Documents – Stage Sit-In

For 3 days, students at Swarthmore College have occupied the quarters of one of the college’s two fraternities.

The demonstration transpired after “unredacted materials” were anonymously leaked to student journalists that contained derogatory comments about women, minorities and the LGBTQ community, and jokes about sexual assault allegedly written by former members of one of Swarthmore’s fraternities – Phi Psi – whose house the students seized.

The documents labeled as “minutes” are allegedly “secondhand recaps of Phi Psi members’ activities.”

#TitleIX #itsonus #SAAM #IAsk #EROC #nomore

Read the Full Story Here.

 

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Three Virginia State University (VSU) Fraternity Members Charged in Alleged Hazing Incident

Image result for kappa alpha psi greek letters

Petersburg, Virginia Police have charged 3 Virginia State University (VSU) Kappa Alpha Psi (ΚΑΨ ) fraternity members in an alleged hazing incident over the weekend on Pocahontas Island. University officials said 8 other students participated in the activity.

Police did not provide the offenses with which the 3 men were charged, but online court records show that one Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity member was charged with 10 counts of misdemeanor hazing and was to appear in court Monday morning. No charges were listed for the other two students.

University officials said the 3 students “are being charged with hazing-related criminal offenses,” but did not specify the charges.

The 8 other students who participated in the hazing activity have been referred to the VSU Office of Judicial Affairs for disciplinary action “as a result of student conduct violations.”

VSU officials said the university’s anti-hazing policy “clearly states that every form of hazing to include conspiracy to haze is prohibited.” The university has had several publicized hazing incidents in the past decade.

Read The News & Advance Full Article Here.

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The Kids Are Still Dying – How Do We Prosecute Hazing?

Image result for greek lifeThis school year has included a number of hazing injuries and deaths across the country – in both the K12 schools and on college campuses.

After the recent alleged hazing death of University of Buffalo (UB) student & Sigma Pi pledge, Sebastian Serafin-Bazan,  School Violence Law and The Fierberg National Law Group attorney, Douglas Fierberg, was interviewed for The Buffalo News article regarding his expertise in hazing tragedies.

Unlike the old days when a “Frat Mom” ran the show, most fraternity houses operating today lack adult supervision and instead rely on a management structure that leaves 20- and 21-year-olds in charge, Fierberg said.

“Time and time again, that management structure has failed,” he said. “It’s deadly.”

– Read The Buffalo News Full Article Here.

 

 

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Ohio Student Died at Sigma Pi Fraternity 6 Months Before UB Freshman

When are fraternities going to take the lead and implement steps required to make their operations and chapters safe?

Sadly, Sebastian Serafin-Bazan’s death is not the first incident where a student has died or faced harm at a Sigma Pi fraternity in the past six months.

This past November, freshman Collin Wiant died at Ohio University’s Sigma Pi house after ingesting nitrous oxide – a couple of weeks prior to Wiant’s death, the Sigma Pi chapter at the University of Colorado, Boulder ceased operations after young women claimed they were drugged at the house.

Read the Full Article Here.

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New study confirms that fraternity men and athletes are committing more sexual assaults than are those in the general student population

Repeat Rapists on Campus

A new study confirms that fraternity men and athletes are committing more sexual assaults than are those in the general student population — and that repeat offenders are a major problem.

 

Researchers have, many times over, confirmed a sobering fact: fraternity members tend to commit rape much more frequently than their non-Greek-life peers. They’ve also documented that serial offenders account for many campus sexual assaults.

But a new study quantifies in a staggering way the prevalence with which men in fraternities and on sports teams engage in sex crimes on campuses — and how repeat rapists are to blame for a vast majority of these incidents. The report suggests that the vast majority of assaults involving alcohol are committed by serial perpetrators.

Experts on campus sexual violence said that these new data support the idea that administrators should kick out students they’ve found responsible for rape. And, they said, it demonstrates need for more targeted education — especially among the men and groups who are committing the most sexual assaults.

Three professors — from Union University in Tennessee, Bowling Green State University and University of Redlands — used data from the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey, or CORE, developed by the Core Institute at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. The group there helps institutions figure out students’ attitudes toward drug and alcohol consumption.

The researchers looked at survey data from more than 12,600 male students at 49 colleges and universities in one Midwestern state that was not named. The institutions included in the sample were both two- and four-year colleges.

A little more than 5 percent of those men self-reported that they had committed a sexual assault when alcohol was involved. This matched other literature, which has put the percentage of college men who committed a broader range of sexual crimes between 6 and 11 percent.

Of those who sexually assaulted someone while under the influence, it was more common for them to do it again rather than just once. The researchers found that nearly 3 percent of the men in the overall study committed assault twice or more when alcohol was a factor.

“If you have a man who has been accused of sexual assault and you … find him responsible, it makes sense to expel him from the institution, not necessarily just give them educational sanctions,” said John D. Foubert, dean of the College of Education at Union and one of the report’s authors. “It’s cutting down on the rate of rape at the institution drastically.”

More significant was how many more incidents could be attributed to recurring rapists rather than one-time offenders.

The authors of the study weren’t precise with these data, given that students in the original CORE survey could report a range of how many assaults they had committed (again with alcohol involved). For instance, students could report if they assaulted someone three to five times — in this case, the researchers counted that in their report as an average of four assaults per person.

The researchers documented approximately 2,071 sexual assaults — of those, roughly 950 assaults, or about 46 percent of the incidents, were committed by students who admitted to raping 10 or more times.

S. Daniel Carter, president of Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses, which consults with colleges and universities on sexual assaults and federal policy, said this was the most striking figure.

“Removing those repeat perpetrators from the population is the only solution in my point of view,” Carter said.

As the researchers note, the men didn’t always classify their acts as rape, per se. Other studies and interviews with men have found sometimes they consider their victim saying no to be a game or a way to spice up the encounter.

Being associated with a fraternity or an athletics team also had a positive correlation with alcohol-fueled rapes, the study found. Heads of fraternities were less likely to commit alcohol-related assaults than just members. The opposite was true for sports teams — the leaders of the teams reported more assaults.

This reporter provided Todd Shelton, a spokesman for the North-American Interfraternity Conference, with a copy of the study, but Shelton said by email he did not have a chance to review it.

“I will say sexual violence has no place on any campus or in the fraternity experience,” Shelton wrote in his email. “NIC fraternities are committed to creating safer campus communities and recently adopted new health and safety guidelines including banning hard alcohol at fraternity houses and events to create a safer environment for members and guests.”

A previous study by Foubert shows that men who joined fraternities were just as likely to have committed sexual violence prior to college as men who didn’t join a fraternity. But the same study showed that fraternity men were three more likely to assault women than their counterparts, suggesting that fraternity culture was the driving factor for the assaults.

Institutions should more aggressively focus on teaching students in “high-risk” environments such as fraternities and sports teams, rather than just the general population, Foubert said. He said bystander training — educating students to intervene when they see their peers are about to commit a heinous act — has been proven to be effective. Foubert called for more research with a larger national sample, noting their information was from a single state. He said it would also be beneficial to interview directly admitted rapists to learn their motives and how they behave.

“They don’t define their behavior as rape — they sometimes define it as seduction,” Foubert said. “I think it would be helpful [to know] what their techniques are to alert women.”

Colleges and universities trying to stamp out sexual predators could learn from law enforcement efforts to prevent terrorism, said Peter F. Lake, a law professor and director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University.

Lake used this analogy — the public shouldn’t write off fraternities in total, just as they shouldn’t consider all people of a certain race to be terrorists. Institutions should partner with fraternities to help locate bad apples in a group or the misbehaving fraternities on campus. He said many times, the fraternity members, most of whom are not raping women, don’t have the knowledge or skills to respond to “serious psychopathic behavior.”

“If you eliminate the ones that are doing that from the culture, then the culture will thrive,” Lake said.

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Potential Hazing Causes SUNY Buffalo to Suspend Fraternity and Sorority Activities

The University at Buffalo has suspended all fraternities and sororities and is investigating a “potential” hazing incident at the Sigma Pi fraternity house that has left a student in critical condition.

An 18-year-old student, Sebastian Serafin-Bazan, ended up in critical condition at an area hospital after going into cardiac arrest.

The national Sigma Pi Fraternity has now been involved in three incidents in the past six months……including the death of Ohio University student, Collin Wiant, after an alleged hazing incident.

The New York Times Full Article Here.

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Former Penn State University fraternity brothers sentenced in connection with the death of Timothy Piazza during a hazing ritual

Most serious charges dismissed in Timothy Piazza hazing death

Former Penn State University fraternity brothers have been sentenced in connection with the 2017 hazing death of Timothy Piazza.

This is the first time jail sentences have been handed out in the case, though there is a possibility a judge may amend the sentences to house arrest, a source familiar with the case said.

CNN Article Here.

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“Experts call such victim-blaming ‘tortured rationalizations.'”

See the source imageA California father believes his 18-year-old son’s alcohol-related death was the result of a fraternity hazing ritual. The Orange County coroner’s office said Monday, Noah Domingo died from accidental alcohol poisoning.

Noah’s blood alcohol level was more than four times the legal limit, reports CBS News’ Jamie Yuccas. The UC Irvine freshman was found unresponsive after a party in January. His father said Noah was taking part in a dangerous and longstanding fraternity ritual. His death has already prompted Sigma Alpha Epsilon to close its chapter at UC Irvine indefinitely.

In a statement to CBS News, Dale Domingo said, “We have discovered the horrifying truth about fraternity hazing.” He contends the fraternity was conducting its “big brother night” ritual where “Noah was compelled to guzzle a so-called ‘family drink’ to become part of his big brother’s family.” He said, “It is why fraternities openly refer to this type of ritual as being one of the ‘deadly nights.'”

Authorities said Domingo died at about 3:30 in the morning, but the initial 911 call was some six hours later. The person who called 911 told the operator “he just drank, he just drank too much.”

Disputing the account in the 911 call, Noah’s father said his son did not just drink too much. He said experts call such victim-blaming “tortured rationalizations.”

Authorities are still investigating the circumstances leading to Domingo’s death and have not confirmed that hazing played a role.
In a statement, the university offered its “deepest sympathies to the Domingo family” and said “his death brings an urgent focus on alcohol and substance abuse.”

The focus on fraternity hazing has intensified in recent years with the deaths of Penn State sophomore Timothy Piazza and Florida State University fraternity member Andrew Coffey.

Just like other families impacted by college drinking deaths, Noah’s father said he will honor his son by doing everything he can to end hazing by fraternities and their members.

CBS News reached out to Sigma Alpha Epsilon regarding the confirmation of Domingo’s cause of death, but have not heard back.

©  2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. See the Full Report Here.

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