Friday, December 10, 2010

UF Delays Fraternity Suspension for Hazing and Alcohol Abuse

Fraternity's suspension on hazing allegations delayed
The national fraternity has removed many Pi Lambda Phi members.

By Nathan Crabbe
Staff writer

A University of Florida fraternity has been given a deferred suspension for alcohol and hazing violations, including reports that pledges were paddled and forced to answer questions while blindfolded with their feet in ice water for hours.

Pi Lambda Phi members must comply with the UF student conduct and honor codes through August 2012 or risk having the suspension implemented. The UF chapter of the fraternity was banned from recruiting activities this fall, but will be able to do such activities in the spring as long as alcohol is not involved.

The national fraternity previously conducted a membership review that resulted in more than half of the UF chapter's members leaving or being removed, said Ian Lowe, director of chapter operations. He said the chapter now has a much different feel than it did before, as the organization has worked with the university on education efforts involving members.

"It indicated to the school that we were serious [and] these actions were not something that we were supportive of or felt were congruent with our values," he said.

The charges mainly involved hazing that reportedly happened last spring. A UF investigation found that during the fraternity's "Hell Week," Pi Lambda Phi pledges were required to create paddles, which other members later used to hit them on their backsides.

Pledges were also blindfolded and their feet put in buckets of ice water, the investigation found. They were sprayed with warm water if they gave a correct answer and cold water if they gave a wrong answer. UF found the questioning lasted 2-3 hours, with pledges occasionally being able to take their feet out of the buckets for a few minutes.

Other charges involve underage drinking and the forced consumption of alcohol and hot sauce. The investigation also found that pledges were blindfolded and forced to listen to the country song "Friends in Low Places" for about 2½ hours. A pledge was also told to defecate and put the waste on someone's vehicle, according to the report.

UF found the fraternity guilty of alcohol and hazing violations in October, issuing its sanctions at that time. The Sun obtained the investigation this week as part of a public records request.

Jack Causseaux, associate director of the UF Office of Sorority and Fraternity Affairs, said the deferred suspension reflected the fact that the national organization first took action.

"What happened after the fact was exactly what we like to see," he said.

The fraternity, known as Pi Lam, was founded at Yale University in 1925 as the first nonsectarian fraternity in the U.S. Its UF chapter was established in 1925.

The UF chapter was previously reprimanded in 2007 for hosting an unauthorized party at its house on 15 Fraternity Row in which university police found alcohol, drug paraphernalia and marijuana.

Following the most recent allegations, Lowe said the chapter implemented new grade point average and volunteering requirements. Causseaux said no problems have been reported this fall.

"So far they're doing well," he said. "There's been no hiccups or other concerns."