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Inside Higher Education reveals Maryland’s reasons for its temporary halting of Greek Life

Excerpt and link: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/students/physical-mental-health/2024/03/19/inside-legal-challenge-over-hazing-univ-maryland

The University of Maryland’s court filing is at times shocking.

March 19, 2024
A Legal Fight Over “Widespread” and “Severe” Hazing at Maryland
The University of Maryland says it had good reason to suspend alcohol-related and new-member activities among Greek organizations. Some fraternities disagree.

By Johanna Alonso

Inside Higher Freedom of expression in higher education
Students on the quad in front of McKeldin Mall on the University of Maryland’s campus
UMD had previously concealed the details of its hazing investigation but revealed some allegations in a court filing on Friday.

When the University of Maryland suspended 37 fraternities and sororities earlier this month, the outcry from the chapters—and their national affiliates—was swift. Four fraternities went so far as to file a motion in federal court for a temporary restraining order that would end the blanket suspension.

Though administrators initially declined to share details about what prompted the suspension, new legal filings revealed reports of intense physical and psychological abuse—at least at some of the chapters. Following an investigation, the university reversed the suspension for all but five Greek organizations. As a result, the four fraternities have withdrawn their request for a temporary restraining order.

But the legal tussle isn’t over yet; the fraternities say they will not toss out their lawsuit against the university, which claims among other things that the suspension violated their rights to free speech and due process.

The university initially suspended all 37 of the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association organizations on campus on March 1, prohibiting their members from hosting events with alcohol or from communicating with new members about Greek life.

On March 13, UMD’s chapters of Theta Chi, Kappa Alpha Order, Alpha Sigma Phi, and Alpha Tau Omega—as well as three unnamed fraternity brothers—filed the motion for a temporary restraining order, requesting the reversal of the blanket suspension. The motion, like the lawsuit, argued that the ban violated their First Amendment rights, and that they were denied due process when officials declined to tell them what Student Code of Conduct policies they had allegedly broken.

Two days later, following an investigation, UMD ended the suspension of most of the Greek organizations, prompting the plaintiffs to drop the motion and request the cancellation of a hearing scheduled for Monday afternoon.

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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