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Collegian: Acacia under investigation at Penn State–details murky due to confidentiality claims

Posted on January 28, 2009 4:59 AM
Hazing claim probed

University, IFC investigate Acacia
By Kelsey Ginck Email
Collegian Staff Writer

The university is investigating allegations of hazing against Acacia fraternity, which has been suspended from all activities until further notice, Penn State spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz said.

Mountz had no other details regarding the hazing allegations, but said the national chapter of the fraternity has been notified of the university’s investigation.

“We’re working with the university, and they are currently under investigation,” said Darold Larson, executive director of the national chapter of Acacia.

Larson couldn’t comment on any details of the hazing allegations, or on what level the issue would be handled.

“It’s a little premature to speak of what action may or may not be taken at this time,” he said.

A Tuesday afternoon phone call to former Acacia President Anthony Feo was deferred to a later time. Multiple calls to Feo made Tuesday evening were not returned.

The university defines hazing on its Web site as any situation that “endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student” or that “removes or destroys” property for initiation or to continue membership in a student organization.

Penn State considers actions including beating; forced consumption of drugs, alcohol, food or any other substance; and “forced conduct that could result in extreme embarrassment,” among others, as hazing, according to its Web site.

The Web site states any student group found to be participating in any of the activities defined as hazing are “subject to disciplinary action by the appropriate registering organization.”

The Interfraternity Council (IFC) held a meeting Monday night to discuss the allegations and continue the investigation process, IFC President Luke Pierce said.

After the meeting, Pierce wrote in an e-mail he could not “confirm or comment on any of the details related to the ongoing investigation of Acacia Fraternity.”

“In order to maintain the integrity of our judicial process,

we must maintain confidentiality for all case-specific details,” he wrote.

Pierce cited the IFC conduct manual as the reason for the confidentiality.

According to the manual, everyone involved in a hearing is asked to maintain confidentiality with “case details.” Also, names of “students appearing before hearing bodies are not to be released.”

Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Roy Baker did not immediately return multiple calls seeking comment about the hazing allegations.

The investigation may last up to a week and a half before a decision is reached, Pierce said when reached Monday.

The university is also investigating a pig roast held by the fraternity to verify the pig was euthanized appropriately, Mountz said, adding the hazing allegations and the pig roast have been determined to be “completely separate” incidents.

“At this point it looks like there was no malice from the information we have, but investigations are still continuing,” Moutz said, referring to the pig roast.

Members of Acacia purchased a pig, the sale of which “was handled according to established policy,” from the Penn State Swine Center for a weekend pig roast, Mountz said.

“It is our understanding that members of the fraternity, some of whom grew up on a farm and have experience butchering livestock, euthanized the animal,” Mountz wrote in an e-mail sent earlier this week.

“Since we do not yet know all of the details, I can’t speculate on any action that might be taken,” she wrote.

Mountz did not know whether the university would be involved in the handling of either the hazing allegations or the pig roast incident, but added, “if in either case, a university policy was violated, it will be dealt with through Judicial Affairs.”

Baker, speaking through a receptionist, declined to comment regarding the pig roast investigation.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of 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 new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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