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Miami of Ohio suspends 3 fraternities, including Sigma Nu

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In April, the university obtained photos sent through SnapChat and text messages that noted Sigma Nu’s newest members were told to drink 100 beers and banned from showering or shaving. The photos show pledges with tallies on their chest, according to records.

In disciplinary hearings, the fraternity denied those allegations. Representatives with Sigma Nu, however, did admit to hosting alcohol-fueled parties, which was prohibited at the time since the fraternity was on probation.

The fraternity was suspended until May 2018 and while an appeal of the decision was denied in June, the chapter can submit a proposal to reopen as early as next year.

Sophomore student Austin Worrell, who was a freshmen pledging to join Sigma Nu last spring, said he was never hazed during his time with the fraternity.

“I definitely was showering and shaving that week,” Worrell said in an interview with the Journal-News.

Worrell had planned to live in the Sigma Nu fraternity house this year. Instead, he had to scramble to find a dorm room on campus.

“I thought it was a great injustice,” Worrell said. “During our candidate process we weren’t just sitting there beating each other up. We were building up a brotherhood.”

Although he didn’t see all of the evidence the college collected to suspend the fraternity, he believes Sigma Nu was unfairly punished and suspects the university’s evidence was mostly fueled by rumors and social media posts.

That’s unlikely according to Glenn Muschert, a sociology professor at Miami who wouldn’t comment on specific causes but said the university compiles a lot of evidence — from interviews to photos — to discipline students or organizations.

Muschert sits on the college’s disciplinary board and said those accused of violating the university’s code of conduct are allowed to bring in lawyers and their own evidence to defend themselves.

Organizations that are already on probation, like Sigma Nu, are often doled out tougher punishments, Muschert said.

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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