Claims of Frat Hazing Spark Several Investigations

    University administrators are initiating an investigation
    into allegations of fraternity hazing after receiving new evidence this past
    weekend from an anonymous former Sigma Nu pledge. The latest investigation
    joins others already underway by the national headquarters of at least one
    other campus fraternity.

    Several months after the former pledge submitted e-mail
    evidence of alleged hazing to a UCSD student organizations adviser and three
    fraternities’ national headquarters, the university has yet to release details
    about the status of the pending investigation.

    Recent hazing accusations targeted the Sigma Nu fraternity,
    but the most recent evidence — which includes a number of Facebook pictures —
    also documents apparent hazing among Pi Kappa Alpha and Sigma Chi fraternities.

    UCSD Student Organizations Adviser Marilyn Russell
    acknowledged that there was an “ongoing investigation,” but said university
    policy prohibited the release of information pertaining to active inquiries.

    The informant said that he had submitted similar allegations
    in November 2007, spurring the national headquarters to launch an inquiry.
    However, he said he was not contacted for an interview by any campus
    administrators.

    Justin Buck, executive director at Pi Kappa Alpha’s national
    headquarters, said that while his organization had already performed its own
    investigation two months ago, he would soon be commissioning a second.

    “We found that the pictures that were sent to us did not
    constitute hazing, and the chapter assured us at the time that the events did
    not involve hazing,” Buck said.

    Some of the pictures, however, depict pledges being forcibly
    fed bottles of hard liquor while blindfolded. Another picture show a pledge
    tied up with rope and duct tape, while others show pledges unconscious or
    vomiting.

    “I’ll need to look at the pictures again,” Buck said. “We
    are going to investigate this issue again. We will be in touch with the campus
    and the president of PIKE. I cannot speculate on outcomes at this time.”

    The e-mails also included a Facebook wall-to-wall
    conversation between a PIKE brother and a pledge in which the brother threatens
    the pledge with the “elephant walk,” a hazing ritual that requires the pledges
    to walk in a circle while holding on to the genitalia of the person behind
    them.

    “PIKE brothers’ response was to pretend nothing ever
    happened and hope the allegations go away once everybody denies them,” said the
    former Sigma Nu pledge, who requested anonymity for fear of retaliation.
    “Unfortunately, the pictures of PIKE hazing are the most conclusive of all. A
    student who knows nothing about Greek life could see them and instantly know
    that they were hazing photos.”

    PIKE’s pledge process consists of events called “big bro
    revealing” and “tuck-ins,” the informant said. During “big bro revealing,”
    pledges are given a “family drink” of hard liquor and instructed by their “big
    bro” to drink the entire bottle. A “tuck-in” occurs when a “big sis” reads a
    children’s storybook, and the pledge must take a shot of liquor whenever a word
    of choice is read.

    “Usually, the word is something that will occur many times,”
    he said. “On average, a pledge takes about 12 to 25 shots during a tuck-in.”

    Similarly, Sigma Nu’s process of “big sis revealing”
    requires the blindfolded pledge to consume large amounts of beer before the
    blindfold is removed and his “big sis” is revealed.

    “It is not what it seems to an outsider,” said a Pi Beta Phi
    member who also requested to remain anonymous. “I think the big sis process is
    actually a positive event in a new Greek member’s life, because they are placed
    in the trusting hands of someone who will nurture them through their years at
    UCSD. What is constituted as ‘hazing’ at our schools does not even come close
    to other schools’ Greek systems.”

    In addition, each Sigma Nu pledge is given a “pledge book”
    that consists of the history of the fraternity as well as a list of all active
    brothers. In order to be initiated, a pledge must interview and obtain the
    signatures of every brother.

    “Unfortunately, in many cases the interview book does not
    serve its intended purpose of helping pledges get to know the brothers,” the
    informant said. “The brothers will say things like, ‘I’ll sign your interview
    book if you drink this beer, take a shot, etc.”

    According to the informant, Sigma Chi forced its pledges to
    drink as much Rossi wine as possible in a “Rossi train” before passing the
    bottle to the next pledge. The bottles had to be empty by the time it reached
    the last person in the train.

    “I would say other pledges definitely acquiesced to the
    brothers’ demands out of fear,” the former Sigma Nu pledge said. “Fear of both
    being reprimanded [or] blackballed and fear of not being accepted. Basically,
    they have to trade in their dignity to have the type of social life they
    envisioned when they entered college.”

    Russell said that fraternities found guilty of hazing could
    face any number of possible sanctions, including counseling, fines, academic
    suspension or probation and loss of status as registered student organizations.

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