Blog : doug fierberg

Brother of Sebastian Serafin-Bazan, UB Sigma Pi Pledge, Wants Justice

Image result for sebastian serafin bazanLike many college freshmen, Sebastian Serafin-Bazan joined a fraternity in search of new friends and future career prospects…

Sadly, that close-knit network Sebastian wanted to be part of may have led to his death following suspected hazing at the Sigma Pi chapter at the University of Buffalo.

Read About Other Sigma Pi Incidents & How His Brother Wants Justice Here.

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UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) Theta Chi Fraternity Chapter Dismissed Following Investigation into 2018 Off Campus Death of Member

University of California, Santa CruzSANTA CRUZ — The UC Santa Cruz Police Department announced Friday on social media that Theta Chi was dismissed following an investigation into a death of one of its fraternity members.

The department didn’t elaborate on the death but said it was off campus last year.

Greek letter organizations are affiliated with the campus as student organizations. The UCSC Chancellor’s action means Theta Chi is no longer recognized by the university and is no longer eligible to organize or recruit members.

The investigation revealed “deeply appalling behavior” including hazing, drug use and more. The department added that those actions do not “represent the values of our university.”

UCSC has dismissed one member of Theta Chi and several others may face serious discipline. The group’s national organization was notified of the findings in the investigation. Subsequently, the national organization has revoked the local chapter’s charter, according to the post on social media.

The chapter was on an interim suspension during the investigation.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the student’s family and friends for their unimaginable loss and for the terrible circumstances that surrounded his death,” the post reads. “UC Santa Cruz has zero-tolerance for hazing, which is at odds with our community values and against campus policy. All Greek letter organizations receive a full training about this policy and the law at the start of each academic year, and in light of our investigation, we’ve underscored our expectations for all student organizations.”

Anyone who is aware of any hazing or troubling activity is encouraged to reach out to the Dean of Students at 831-459-4446 and deanofstudents@ucsc.edu or UC Santa Cruz Police Department at 831-459-2231 ext. 1.

Read The Mercury News article here.

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These Rape Victims Had to Sue to Get the Police to Investigate

Evidence so neglected it grew mold. Calls to the authorities for help that went unanswered. Witnesses and victims who were never interviewed. These are just a handful of the claims that sexual assault survivors are making against law enforcement in courts around the country.

In at least seven places in recent years — AustinSan FranciscoMemphisHoustonBaltimoreGreenwich, Conn.; and the Village of Robbins, Ill. — women have filed lawsuits in an attempt to force the police and prosecutors to improve their practices.

These unconnected lawsuits are adding innovative legal arguments in search of solutions in the wake of the #MeToo movement, which exposed failures to recognize and pursue sex offenders.

Read the Full New York Times Article HERE.

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Another LSU Fraternity Kicked Off Campus for 4 Years After Police, University Investigations

fraternityrow.adv HS 087.JPGPi Kappa Phi has been on an interim suspension since last fall…

This same chapter was previously disciplined in the fall of 2017, just one month after the hazing death of freshman Phi Delta Theta pledge Max Gruver, which placed LSU’s Greek system into the national spotlight.

Read The Advocate Article Here.

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‘It’s Like the Wild West’: Sexual Assault Victims Struggle in K-12 Schools

Under the Trump administration’s proposed Title IX regulations, schools would be expected to recognize complaints only where harassment is “severe and pervasive,” and could decline to investigate claims that happen off campus or outside the school’s programming.

The rules would no longer explicitly define how schools should address a “hostile environment” for accusers.

Check out the NY Times Article Here.

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Amid Alleged Broomstick Hazing Ritual Scandal, Damascus High Principal Resigns, JV Football Coach & Athletic Director Placed on Leave

When a JV high school football team,  thought to be like a family, allegedly commits the tradition of “broomstick” hazing to new teammates, the story is going to draw ongoing negative media attention…

Yesterday, the principal of Damascus High School in Maryland announced her resignation as a result of the alleged October 2018 “broomstick” hazing and rape of junior varsity football team members at the school.

This announcement follows news that the Damascus High’s JV football coach, Vincent Colbert, who was reported as the first school official to know about the attack (and that the school system waited hours to alert police) was placed on leave last month as part of the ongoing investigation…and later last night, a letter to coaches announced that the athletic director was also put on leave.

This heartbreaking news of hazing and sexual assault in high school is reminiscent of the suit School Violence Law & The Fierberg National Law Group filed on behalf of the Ooltewah High School rape victim who was sodomized with a pool-cue by teammates.

Read our first Blog article regarding the Damascus alleged hazing here.

Follow the ongoing coverage at The Washington Post, WTOP  and CBS NEWS.

 

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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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