Hazing News

Brown and White: Two Lehigh groups close

Recent fraternity closings raise concern on the Hill
By: Allie Rolnik
Posted: 3/21/08
After Beta Theta Pi and Sigma Alpha Mu fraternities were disbanded this week because of hazing incidents, the consequences of hazing were highlighted and many members of Greek life took notice.

“It hasn’t affected our new member education program because our program is dry, but it has made us reevaluate the other activities that we run,” Griffin Humphreys, ’09, president of Phi Kappa Theta fraternity, said.

Fraternity presidents have mixed feelings about the incidents and how it will relate back to their houses.

“Getting into trouble does scare me. I have four weeks left until I give over control to the next president, and in those four weeks we end new member education,” Humphreys said. “I don’t want anything to happen to my fraternity or myself and I will go to strong measures to prevent that.”

Humphreys said he is unsure to what extent the school will be policing new member education, and how severe the punishments will be.

The disbandment of Beta and Sammy plays in stark contrast to the recent achievements of the Greek community.

Lehigh won an award for outstanding change in Greek life this year. Also in February, Delta Tau Delta fraternity received the Hugh Shields Award for chapter excellence.

James Paolino, ’09, president of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity, said fraternities and sororities do many good things but the negative incidents garner the most publicity.

“Anytime any fraternity is charged with hazing or any other violations it has a negative impact on the Greek community,” Paolino said. “It is a shame that 18 other fraternities and eight other sororities are negatively affected by such actions.”

Lehigh released revised new member education guidelines this year. Paolino said Phi Sig is pleased with their new member education plan.

“We wanted to serve its ultimate goal, that being to help new members become successful and contributing brothers,” Paolino said.

Uhuru Aseto, president of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, said he has noticed the pressure some houses feel to use alcohol.

“There is a lot of pressure on the Greek community to use certain subjects to draw interest,” Aseto said. “I can’t comment on those houses, I can only speak on behalf of the chapters who believe that alcohol is not necessary in creating a brotherhood bond.”

Greek life leaders acknowledge the loss of the two fraternities, but maintains its decision that they did the right thing.

“We hate to lose fraternities,” David Cohen, president of the Interfraternity Council, said. “Now, there is a smaller academic community, less money being given to the Greek community and less opportunities for philanthropy and community service.”

However, Cohen said he upholds the decision made by the university.

“The fraternities were doing good things, but the bad things that they were doing overshadowed the good things,” he said.

As for the other fraternities, Cohen said he believes that they will learn from this experience and will benefit from it.

“I think that the fact that so many fraternities are being held accountable and with such severe punishments in their hearings are going to make other fraternities think about what they are doing and evaluate it,” Cohen said.

Paolino said there is no risk in new member education as long as a fraternity follows the correct measures in its programs.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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