Thursday, April 05, 2007

FIJI Gets Shut Down at Miami of Ohio

Miami Frat Shut Down Over Hazing

When the national office sends an investigative team, something bad is going to happen. That's what happened to the Phi Gamma Delta chapter at the Miami University of Ohio.

None of the brothers suspected the result would be as devastating as it was. At their weekly chapter meeting on Sunday April 1, 2007 the FIJI brothers learned that their chapter was being suspended indefinitely. The were even made to take the fraternity flag off the pole in front of their house.

“Everybody...was shocked,” said Senior Chris Sledzik.

The decision was based on an alleged hazing incident that occurred on March 6th. Several groups of pledges were taken and dropped off at a wooded park. A park ranger spotted the young men and contacted the school suspecting that hazing was taking place. When he approached the men and asked what chapter they were from they lied. He determined they had no idea where they were.

“We are not a bad-intentioned chapter,” Sophomore Matt Schwier said, “we made a mistake.”

In the chain of events that followed the university contacted the national offices of FIJI who sent the investigative team. The team quickly looked into the incident and decided to shut down the 80 man strong, 50 year old chapter.FIJI

Bill Martin, executive director of the national fraternity, would not go into details, but would only say “the activities that we discovered are outside of the bounds of acceptable behavior for any group that’s going to carry” the Phi Gamma Delta name.


Follow Up News Story
Cincinnati Enquirer April 4, 2007
Miami U. frat ordered shut down
BY LORI KURTZMAN

Chris Sledzik's fraternity was in trouble with Miami University. That much he knew.

He knew about the hazing allegations. He knew about the visits from the investigators for the International Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta. Something was going on.

He just didn't know it would be this big.

"We didn't see it coming at all," Sledzik said.

At a house meeting Sunday, Miami's Phi Gamma Delta chapter learned it was being shut down.

Saying the 80-plus-member chapter violated the fraternity's hazing and alcohol rules, Phi Gamma Delta's international headquarters in Lexington, Ky., suspended the 50-year-old Miami operation indefinitely.

The men have until the end of the semester to leave their house at High Street and Campus Avenue. They were made to take their fraternity flag down from its pole.

"Everybody ... was shocked," said Sledzik, a senior from Akron. "It's kind of a hard pill to swallow. I still think that pill's caught in a lot of people's throats."

The chapter's quick demise began March 6, when small groups of men were spotted at Hueston Woods on a cold Saturday afternoon.

Park rangers contacted Miami to report what they suspected was a hazing incident, said Susan Vaughn, director of the university's office of ethics and student conflict resolution. They thought the men had been left outside for a long period of time without knowing where they were or how to get home, Vaughn said. One group reportedly tried to start a fire in a restroom for warmth.

When asked which fraternity they were with, the men lied, the university was told.

It wasn't the first incident involving the fraternity at Hueston Woods. Four years ago, some members were caught trying to steal a boat mast stored there, Vaughn said. Miami made the chapter write an apology, work 100 hours of community service and make a donation to the park.

This time, Miami charged the chapter with hazing and dishonesty, both violations of the university's code of student conduct. The hearing is Monday.

The fraternity's punishment was much swifter. After hearing about Miami's charges, headquarters sent staff members to Oxford who "uncovered and confirmed the violations that had been alleged," said Bill Martin, executive director of the fraternity commonly known as Fiji.

Martin said Fiji - which has chapters at more than 110 campuses in North America - investigates such charges three or four times a year and suspends, on average, two or three chapters annually.

It deemed the Miami chapter's hazing and alcohol violations worthy of immediate suspension.

Martin wouldn't elaborate on what those were, except to say, "the activities that we discovered are outside of the bounds of acceptable behavior for any group that's going to carry" the Fiji name.

On Tuesday, as the shock was wearing off and members scrambled to find new places to live next year, some fraternity brothers said the punishment was too harsh.

Matt Schwier, a sophomore and Oak Hills High School graduate, said he felt the Fiji investigators were spinning the information they received and ignoring the list of good things he was trying to present them: that the chapter's members had raised almost $1,000 at a charity golf tournament, that they adopt families at Christmas and tutor kids at area schools, that they recently bought more than $100 worth of ramen noodles when they heard a local soup kitchen was short.

"We are not a bad-intentioned chapter," Schwier said, acknowledging that "we made a mistake."