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Buffalo News: University of Buffalo TKE chapter busted in alcohol-related hazing

UB suspends fraternity linked to hazing incident
By Phil Fairbanks

News Staff Reporter
November 21, 2009, 11:00 PM / 9 comments
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UB’s Office of Student Affairs moved quickly to suspend Tau Kappa Epsilon after an “initiation” party Friday morning on Merrimac Street ended with four arrests and two people hospitalized.

Buffalo police said two unidentified men treated at Erie County Medical Center were given “excessive amounts of alcohol” as part of an initiation into TKE.

“It was an isolated incident, and we’re all real sorry about it,” said Dane Counts, president of TKE’s UB chapter. “We are cooperating with the school, our international fraternity and the Buffalo police.”

All four men arrested by police — they range in age from 19 to 33 — are charged with hazing and providing alcohol to minors.

Police said they arrived at 82 Merrimac, a block west of Main Street and two blocks south of Englewood Avenue, at about 1:30 a.m. in response to a complaint about loud noise and found 30 minors drinking.

They later charged four men with providing the alcohol. Two of them — Steven C. Pehta, 19, and Matthew C. Smith, 19, both of 82 Merrimac — are UB students and fraternity members.

“The university has zero tolerance toward hazing,” spokesman John Della Contrada said of UB’s quick action against the fraternity.

Della Contrada said he could not comment on the students’ individual enrollment status but that UB has no tolerance for hazing.

“Students are typically suspended whenever there is a violation of the hazing policy,” he said.

The fraternity’s local Web site includes the names of 24 current members and lists Pehta as the TKE member in charge of recruitment and fraternity rushes.

Those arrested with Pehta and Smith are Michael J. Johnson, 33, of East Park Drive, Town of Tonawanda, and Jacob R. Glaser, 20, of Fancher Avenue, Town of Tonawanda. Counts said Johnson and Glaser are TKE members from chapters outside UB.

“We are all very regretful,” Counts said. “And we are very glad that our brothers who were taken to the hospital are safe, healthy and currently at home with their families.”

Buffalo police said one of the young men found passed out and rushed to the hospital was discovered with vulgar and obscene pictures drawn with permanent marker on his face.

Della Contrada said the university will wait for Buffalo police to complete the investigation before considering disciplinary action against the two students.

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. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

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--http://realalaskadaily.com and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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