Hazing News

Arizona Star Article Exposes Unbalanced Men in a chapter gone wild: Banned University of Arizona chapter was slap-happy, documents reveal.

Moderator: 300 pages of the investigation into multiple hazing incidents involving Sig Ep at the University of Arizona were released to the Arizona Star. Here is the link to the Star.

What is most interesting was the comment by the Sig Ep chapter president saying that hazing did not occur in spite of overwhelming evidence.

For Sigma Phi Epsilon’s excellent Balanced Man chapter follow this link to a North Dakota chapter. The Balanced Man chapters of Sigma Phi Epsilon have by and large had far fewer problems than those who have not adopted the Balance Man program. More here at this link:

The Arizona Star article follows:

Tucson Region
UA fraternity’s hazing documented
Sigma Phi Epsilon was out of control, investigation found
By Aaron Mackey
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 06.28.2009
Pledges attending Sigma Phi Epsilon’s “History Night” last fall got a lot more than a lesson in the fraternity’s traditions.
Divided into groups of 10, the pledges rotated through rooms of the house behind University Medical Center and were asked to squat with their backs pressed against the walls and learn about the goals of pledging.
The pledges were asked to memorize traditions and recall one another’s names while being yelled at and intimidated.
And when one pledge didn’t behave as he should — members thought he was disrespectful — a dozen pledges were lined up and slapped one by one.
When a pledge ducked to avoid a slap, he was hit a second time and then had his shirt ripped off.
The episode was one of about 15 hazing incidents detailed in a University of Arizona investigation that ended in March with one of the largest and oldest fraternities, known informally as Sig Ep, getting booted from campus for three years.
More than 300 pages of documents released to the Arizona Daily Star through a public-records request paint a picture of a fraternity out of control as an alumni board and executive officers clashed with ex-members booted for their bad behavior.
The power struggle created an environment in which pledges were slapped, kicked and forced to drink beer until they vomited as part of an initiation program.
It also set the stage for an unregulated off-campus party at which a UA student reported being sexually assaulted in a pledge’s apartment after she was given a date-rape drug, the investigation concluded.
But the former president of the fraternity, Tyler Babcock, said the UA investigation took events out of context and said that no hazing occurred. While he wouldn’t discuss specific incidents, he said the university showed only one side of the story.
“The university drew an image of us being rowdy, crazy kids that are running around and partying,” he said. “It was a very organized house, and all the kids in the house are great kids.”
However, a letter from the UA that is signed by fraternity leaders states that they agree that the allegations are factually correct.
It’s not clear whether the UA punished any members of the fraternity for the hazing, alcohol and reported sexual-assault violations or if there were any sanctions against it other than losing recognition on campus until 2012.
Individual student punishment is protected by federal law, and the identities of students interviewed by UA officials were blacked out of the copies of the investigation the Star obtained.
The same law, known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, also prevents the UA from disclosing any further details about the reported sexual assault, said Carol Thompson, dean of students. Thompson would say only that the UA completed its investigation into the incident.
It’s not clear whether police investigated the incident. Neither the Tucson nor the UA police departments would provide information on whether they investigated the incident, despite being given a week to do so.
The chapter’s adviser, Dan Knauss, said in a lengthy statement that most of the hazing was conducted by students who had been kicked out of the fraternity after the university put the chapter on probation.
“Unfortunately, these individuals were not confronted by the new officers, to the extent they were aware of their activities,” he wrote in an e-mail.
“This is not to say that there weren’t violations of the university’s code by some current members, primarily involving alcohol and minor hazing.”
Multiple requests for comment from Sig Ep’s national headquarters went unanswered.
The documents detail a wide range of hazing, including:
• Mandating that pledges carry cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and Sour Patch Kids candy for members of the fraternity.
• Requiring pledges to be at the fraternity house from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays unless they had class or a written excuse for where they were.
• Making pledges clean the fraternity house as well as a member’s off-campus apartment after a party.
• Forcing pledges to perform headstands near walls and wall-sits while older members yelled at them and in one instance attempted to kick a pledge’s legs out from underneath him.
The most serious violations revolved around daily song practice, during which pledges sang traditional fraternity songs while members listened.
The investigation details that members threw paper balls at pledges, shot spitballs at them and pushed them while they sang. Some members threw ice down the pledges’ shirts, the investigation said.
On Fridays, the underage pledges were forced to drink beer while they practiced the songs. The pledges were told to drink until they vomited, with garbage cans put out for them to use, the investigation details.
After they finished vomiting, the pledges would have to resume singing and drinking, according to the investigation.
Babcock said that none of the pledges was required to participate in any activities the university classified as hazing. They were only encouraged to do so.
“There was no real hazing,” he said. “Everybody was always given the choice, and the choices were not detrimental to active status in the house.”
Then there was Bayonet Night, at which about 30 pledges were lined up and blindfolded at the fraternity house. They were marched in line to a nearby basketball court and told to wait in silence.
After about 30 minutes, the pledges removed their blindfolds and realized one of them was gone. The missing pledge had been cut — “blackballed,” in the fraternity’s parlance.
The investigation indicates that members took the pledge away, with other pledges interviewed by officials speculating he was removed for either not meeting fraternity standards or because he was awkward around women at fraternity parties.
Babcock said there was nothing menacing about the ritual and that the ceremony was similar to those conducted by other fraternities on campus.
He said the decision to part ways with the pledge was mutual. “He was not forcefully removed. If the kid doesn’t meet standards, it is expressed verbally and very calmly.”
Babcock also blamed the divide that developed in the house on the university investigation, not tension between former members and those who remained after the national organization intervened in 2007.
After the fraternity was placed on probation for hazing that year, the national fraternity formed an alumni advisory group and reviewed every member. More than 70 were booted.
But those individuals would still show up to fraternity events and recruitment activities, with many responsible for the hazing, according to the investigation.
Babcock said that in the wake of the membership shake-up, it was hard for younger members of the fraternity to know who was allowed at the house.
There never was any confrontation between the former members and those at the house, and the hazing attributed to the ex-members was blown out of proportion, Babcock said.
The investigation details that several members and ex-members intimidated pledges both during their initiation and after the UA began its investigation.
One member quit after being described as gay. He was ridiculed, and members used slurs to describe him, according to the investigation.
The pledges who cooperated with UA investigators were labeled traitors and threatened, with one pledge saying he was told by a member that “we will hunt you down with masks and kill you if you ever tell,” according to the report.
The member later denied threatening the student.
On StarNet: Log on to to view copies of the summary of the UA’s investigation into Sigma Phi Epsilon and a statement from the local chapter’s adviser.

Hazing News

Lincoln Journal Star: Christopher Wozniak, 22, and Samuel Bates, 20,
Two Sigma Chi members plead no contest in hazing case
By CORY MATTESON / Lincoln Journal Star
Wednesday, Jun 24, 2009 – 08:44:00 pm CDT
Two Sigma Chi fraternity members charged in connection to the hazing of University of Nebraska-Lincoln students pleaded no contest Wednesday to one count each of procuring alcohol for a minor.

Both Christopher Wozniak, 22, and Samuel Bates, 20, were found guilty by Lancaster County Judge Gale Pokorny. They are scheduled to be sentenced July 31 for the misdemeanor offenses.

In all, eight Sigma Chi members were charged with hazing or procuring alcohol for a minor, or both. Neither Wozniak nor Bates were ever charged with hazing former Sigma Chi pledges.

In February, a former pledge told UNL police he was subjected to several hazing activities, including one in which a stripper —acting at the request of a Sigma Chi member — briefly anally penetrated him with a vibrator.

Several times beginning in March, UNL police searched the Sigma Chi house, 1510 Vine St., and uncovered evidence to support some hazing allegations, including a letter to the fraternity’s national organization detailing a paddling incident and a party involving strippers, according to court documents.

Court documents also show former pledges reported paying $200 each for a “social fund” used to buy alcohol, including for underage fraternity members. Police found evidence of the fund in the house, including a bank statement addressed to the Sigma Chi Social Fund.

Police found an abundance of alcohol in the house. Alcohol is forbidden on the UNL campus.

UNL has since suspended the fraternity.

Three members of the fraternity still face charges of hazing and procuring alcohol for a minor. Two members still face hazing charges, and one member still faces a procuring alcohol for a minor charge.

All six fraternity members who still face charges are scheduled to appear in Lancaster County Court on Monday.

Procuring alcohol for a minor is a Class I misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year’s imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. There is no minimum penalty.

Copyright © 2002-2009 Lincoln Journal Star. All rights reserved.

Hazing News

Hazing in some historically African American Greek groups

March 25, 2008
‘Culture of denial’ in fraternity hazings
By Ashlee Clark
An Eastern Kentucky University student who was allegedly the victim of hazing could be just
one of many young people who endure violent and humiliating behavior to join a black Greek
organization, experts say.
EKU student Brent Whiteside was hospitalized this month after allegedly being hazed while he
pledged Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, a historically black organization. EKU and the national
Kappa Alpha Psi organization have suspended the chapter pending an investigation.
University officials call it an isolated incident. But hazing allegations such as this one only chip
away at a problem that has festered throughout the black Greek community nationwide, experts
Fraternities and sororities of all types have hazed incoming members, or pledges, for decades.
But the practice has become dangerous and sometimes deadly since hazing was officially banned
from black Greek organizations in 1990. That is when the practice went “underground,” meaning
it was performed secretly and without being regulated.
“There is this culture of secrecy, culture of denial,” said Ricky L. Jones, a professor at the
University of Louisville and author of Black Haze: Violence and Manhood in Black Greek-letter
Experts say it will be a formidable task to end hazing in fraternities and sororities. Organizations
would need to confront and change a mind-set ingrained in the black Greek culture that condones
“It’s a deadly cycle, and it’s a cycle that unfortunately goes so deep and so far that a lot of our
members are not even aware of the illogical arguments that they make in terms of hazing,” said
Lawrence Ross Jr., author of The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and
Sororities and member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
“No one wants to say that their experience really didn’t have any worth,” he said. “They have to
hang on to a piece of it.”
Few details given
EKU officials and those involved in the investigation have been tight-lipped about what
happened. Whiteside and his family could not be reached for comment. The national
organization also did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment. EKU has not revealed
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details of the alleged hazing, including the extent of Whiteside’s injuries, because the
investigation is ongoing.
The case was reported March 8. Whiteside spent several days at Central Baptist Hospital in
An EKU police officer investigating what happened contacted Whiteside on March 11. The
student told the investigator that he “wanted to focus on his health issues at this time and stated
that he would contact this investigator when he was fully recovered,” according to the call
response run report.
No criminal charges have been filed against the Kappas, said Marc Whitt, associate vice
president for public relations and marketing at EKU.
Wardell Johnson, the campus adviser for the Kappas, said Whiteside is out of the hospital. He
declined to comment further.
Mike Reagle, the associate vice president for student affairs at EKU, stressed that this is an
isolated event.
“The one thing that I always want to say is this is an isolated circumstance for us,” Reagle said.
“Sometimes it gets blown out to the entire Greek population.”
Long history of hazing
Experts say hazing can include a wide range of activities, from running errands and performing
calisthenics to paddling and severe beatings.
The practice became prevalent at colleges and universities in the United States in the mid-1800s.
Upperclassmen would ridicule freshmen and sophomores so the younger students could prove
they were worthy of being in college, said Walter Kimbrough, author of Black Greek 101: The
Culture, Customs and Challenges of Black Fraternities and Sororities.
The hazing of underclassmen began to be outlawed around the 1920s. But the practice then
trickled into fraternities and sororities, Kimbrough said.
Around this time, black fraternities and sororities began to adopt a pledge process. The initial
purpose of the process was to create a uniform way to disseminate information about the
organization to chapters across the country, Ross said. The Kappas were the first group to
organize a pledge club in 1919, Ross said.
Ironically, the founders of black fraternities and sororities didn’t have to go through a pledging or
hazing process, Ross said. The members were initially picked based on their previous actions on
campus and high academic standards.
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Over the next few years, pledging continued within black Greek organizations. Hazing also
began to play a role in the pledge process, experts say.
The death of one student who was pledging Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity led the National Pan-
Hellenic Council, which oversees the nine historically black fraternities and sororities, to ban
hazing in 1990 and establish a membership intake program.
Difficult to stop
But the proclamation didn’t stop the hazing.
Two women pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha drowned during a hazing ritual in 2002. A student
pledging Kappa Alpha Psi at Florida A&M University was beaten with canes in 2006, and two
fraternity brothers were sent to jail.
Ross said black Greeks believe there is an intangible quality that comes out of pledging that
transforms those seeking membership into valuable members of the organization. However,
there’s no quantifiable way to measure that, he said.
Hank Nuwer, a hazing expert who has studied the topic for 30 years, said the pledge process and
hazing is comparable to the military in terms of forging a bond between members. However,
hazing becomes dangerous because students tend to think they are “superhuman” and not at risk
of getting hurt during the process, Nuwer said.
Pledges are also less inclined to quit the hazing process to avoid the stigma of not being able to
withstand the rituals.
The cycle continues when new members complete the pledge process; they will haze the next
group of new members because they were hazed themselves.
“I hate that this is going on,” said Jones, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi. “It breaks my heart.”
Short of completely disbanding the organizations, experts have made various suggestions to
confront the problem. These include establishing a moratorium so experts can figure out how to
stop hazing, enforcing penalties, and reducing the number of chapters.
All agree that a change of mind-set would be required to prevent such cases from overshadowing
the good things these groups accomplish, such as volunteer work and mentorship in the black
“When the details come out, it casts a cloud over these groups, and that’s not what they’re all
about,” Nuwer said.
News researcher Linda Niemi contributed to this story. Ashlee Clark covers Madison County for
the Herald-Leader.
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© 2008 and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved

Hazing News

Sig Ep members skate on technicality; one copped plea: Source WCTV

Read the WCTV account

Two FSU students and a TCC student accused of hazing will have their records wiped clean after prosecutors are forced to drop the charges.

Nicholas Finazzo, Drew Johnson and Joshua Vincent were arrested on misdemeanor hazing charges back in January 2007.

They were caught in the crawl space beneath a home on Bonnie Drive after the mother of a Sigma Phi Epsilon pledge called police.

FSU Police responded to the scene and after hearing screams called Tallahassee Police for help, but a recent court ruling says FSU police did not have jurisdiction off campus and prosecutors have since dropped the charges.

“Law enforcement officers like the rest of us have to follow the rules. (In this case) they didn’t and that’s why the case was dismissed,” said Finazzo’s attorney Lisa Hurley.

Prosecutor Stephanie Webster says she has no doubt a crime was committed at the house, but with all the evidence now thrown out, obviously she cannot prove it.

Tony Bajoczky, who represents Joshua Vincent, called Judge Francis’s decision a good one and says he hopes FSU Police will pay attention to it. They don’t have carte blanche to investigate or make arrests off campus, he says.

A fourth student, Eric Fernandez, already entered a plea in this case and served a mix of jail time and probation.