Hazing News

Wichita State drops the ball on important disclosure and reporting matters regarding Beta Theta Pi.

Moderator: As Penn State and numerous other schools become open about reporting hazing and other student group crimes. Wichita State has clammed up. It took an open records demand by the independent Sunflower paper (good for them!) to get sny sparse information at all. Wichita State hides public info about arrests. Open Records request gets asst. VP Mandy Hambleton to talk–not much.

Second, here is the bigger question. Why wasn’t this incident immediately reported to city law enforcement for investigation?

–Moderator Hank Nuwer

Key excerpts from The Sunflower investigation:

A Wichita State fraternity has been placed on probation for hazing, but the university did not report it to law enforcement.

After violating university policies on hazing and underage drinking, Beta Theta Pi Fraternity has been placed on disciplinary probation, according to a student conduct case resolution form obtained through a Kansas Open Records request. The fraternity received a deferred suspension, which means members may continue to attend classes.

Mandy Hambleton, assistant vice president for student advocacy, intervention, and accountability, said “quite a few” members of the fraternity were involved in hazing activities that “affect” physical and mental health of new members.

Hambleton declined to disclose specifics of what happened during the hazing. She said doing so would disclose “personally identifying information.” She said she could not disclose the number of members involved in hazing because doing so has a “potential for leading to personally identifiable information.”

According to university records, the chapter accepted responsibility for hazing new members during its initiation week, Jan. 11-14, 2017.

“Beta Theta Pi has worked hand-in-hand with our General Fraternity, local advisors and Wichita State administrators to ensure that our chapter culture meets — and exceeds — the expectations of a Greek organization on this campus,” Patrick Osner, president of the chapter, said in an email.

“Our members have participated in countless workshops, trainings, exercises and heart-felt discussions, and recommitted ourselves to our core mission of developing men of principle.”

Hambleton said that the code of conduct is being revised to include four categories of hazing.

“The first is things that affect your physical health and safety,” Hambleton said. “The second is things that affect your emotional and mental health safety. The third one is things that interfere with your academics or your ability to kind of pursue your life, like going to work or going to church. The last category is things that encourage or require you to violate the law or university policy.”

Hambleton said the hazing at Beta fell into the first and second categories.

Hazing is a crime in Kansas.

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. 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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