Hazing News

Northern Arizona Pike chapter booted, student paper reports

Suspended fraternity used rotten fruit, dry ice in initiation activities
In their list of hazing charges that resulted in a five-year suspension,
NAU officials say Pi Kappa Alpha made pledges eat rotten fruit and
‘branded’ them with dry ice.

City Editor

Initiation activities that included pelting pledges with rotten food,
having them strip down to their boxers and spend hours crammed in a
bathroom together, and ‘branding’ them with dry ice were among hazing
incidents that led Northern Arizona University officials to suspend the
largest campus fraternity earlier this month for five years.

Documents released to the the Daily Sun Friday detail the incidents
university officials investigated and used in determining the Theta Rho
Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was in violation of the Student Code
of Conduct and the University Hazing Prevention Policy.

Pi Kappa Alpha officers have the right to request a hearing on the
suspension and must do so by Jan. 7, 2009. As of Friday, they have yet to
request a hearing nor have they waived rights to a hearing.

The suspension, if upheld, is effective for five years.

In a letter to NAU Student Life officials addressing the hazing
allegations, the Theta Rho chapter of the fraternity stated the incidents
were “a case of misplaced judgment” and not a case of “malice or cruelty.”

The letter dated Nov. 19 stated, “Unfortunately, the oral traditions passed
down from alumni and nationally covering hazing incidents have led us to
conclude that our pledging activities were within the acceptable range.”
The letter also contended that allegations described “have a basis in fact
but have been exaggerated upon.”

NAU defines hazing as an act that “contributes to a substantial risk of
potential physical injury, mental harm or degradation or causes physical
injury, mental harm or personal degradation.”

Student Life officials found the fraternity in violation of four provisions
of the Student Code of Conduct.


The alleged hazing occurred during the fall 2007 and spring 2008 semesters
and revolved around a series of pre-initiation events and initiation week

The following summarizes the main accusations and the fraternity’s
response, according the findings of the NAU Office of Student Life and the
letter written by the chapter:

–Blindfolding and placing pillowcases over the heads of pledges and
transporting to undisclosed locations in the bed of a truck.

Response: “… pledges are asked to put pillowcases over the heads to keep
the location undisclosed. During the entire event transportation speeds
were road appropriate for college students.”

–Creating a scavenger hunt activity using glow sticks and pelting pledges
with rotten fruit and vegetables.

Response: “This event is designed as a high intensity game of Capture the
Flag. Pledges were provided protective guys goggles.”

–Forcing blindfolded pledges to stand in a circular structure in the woods
until 5 a.m. and answer questions about the fraternity and their dedication
to it.

Response: “From start to finish this took four to five hours and pledges
never appeared to be mentally or physically distraught after this event.”

–Forcing pledges to “dress down” to their boxer shorts and the “dress up”
into their clothes.

Response: “Pledges were instructed to dress up and dress down.”

–Placing the entire pledge class for an extended amount of time into a
bathroom where pornographic material was posted and strobe lights were used.

Response: The majority of the pledge class was placed in a 72 square-foot
bathroom for two hours. There was pornographic material but it wasn’t
posted and it belonged to the house tenants.

–Requiring pledges to rub lubricant all over their bodies and flex their
muscles for active members.

Response: Pledges were asked to smear Crisco over their bodies for a
“flex-off” competition.

–Sleep deprivation.

Response: The activities didn’t last all night or pledges went to sleep by
3 a.m.

–Forcing pledges to eat breakfast made of rotten food.

Response: Breakfast consisted of “spaghetti-o’s, Hormel chili, Spam, Green
Chilies [sic], Tang, olives, whole beets and Limburger cheese (which gave
off a distinct smell) topped with Fruit Loops. Everything was either fresh
or canned.”

–Forcing pledges to eat a plate of jalapenos and drink a gallon of milk,
causing most of them to vomit.

Response: “Trash cans were present to create a healthy and non-contaminated
environment in case someone got sick.”

–“Branding” the buttocks of pledges with dry ice.

Response: Intended to be a spoof, the dry ice was placed on the skin for
three seconds.

Allegations of offering pledges excessive amount of alcohol, steroid use
among the active members and requesting pledges to find “women” for active
members were unsubstantiated, according to Student Life documents.

In his Dec. 2 letter to the chapter’s officers, NAU Dean of Students Rick
Brandel notes “by their own admission, the Theta Rho Chapter of Pi Kappa
Alpha Fraternity did in fact violate” the university’s student conduct code
and hazing prevention policy and fraternity’s national policies. That
“admission” was the chapter’s Nov. 19 response letter to university officials.

Four violations of the NAU Student Code of Conduct

1. Endangering, threatening or causing physical harm to any member or
causing reasonable apprehension of such harm, or engaging in conduct that a
reasonable would interpret of intent to harm;

2. Violation of rules adopted by the Arizona Board of Regents or the

3. Off-campus conduct that a reasonable person would believe may present a
risk or danger;

4. Engaging in, supporting, promoting or sponsoring hazing, which is an act
that contributes to a substantial risk of potential physical injury, mental
harm or degradation or causes physical injury, mental harm or personal


The Theta Rho Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was officially suspended
by NAU Dec. 2.

The incidents could still result in individual members being charged with
violations of the Student Code of Conduct.

If the fraternity files for a hearing, a board made up of two students, two
faculty members and one staff member will convene within a reasonable time.

According to university officials, hearing boards have two primary
responsibilities: to determine if a violation of the Student Code of
Conduct took place, and to make a recommendation regarding the sanction
that should apply, if any.

Pi Kappa Alpha has 86 members and is NAU’s largest fraternity chapter.
Twenty-three members and six pledges were living in Mountain View Residence
Hall, a dorm designated for NAU’s fraternities and sororities. Five
uninitiated members of the fraternity will move to other campus housing.
Three, possibly four, initiated members will move to another campus
residence hall as well.

NAU will work with the remaining active members to find alternative
on-campus housing or allow them to cancel their on- campus housing contract.

© Copyright 2008, The Arizona Daily Sun.

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-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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