Monday, February 07, 2011

KU's IFC Charged with Hazing Abuse

KU’s fraternity governing body is accused of hazing

An organization charged with leadership and governance of fraternities at the University of Kansas has been accused of hazing — a ritual that has plagued fraternities across the country.

The university says it will sanction the Interfraternity Council after finding that members of the council’s executive board paddled others during a leadership transition ceremony in November.

A report by university officials says members took turns hitting each other with paddles. The report also indicates it wasn’t the first time such paddling took place. The report says similar events happened during the 2009 ceremony.

The school’s report says current anti-hazing programs “do not seem to be having an effect.”

The university’s vice provost for student success is contemplating what kind of sanctions to issue.

Such penalties could include probation and forcing the council to institute more extensive anti-hazing educational programs.

Members of the Interfraternity Council could not be reached for comment. The council’s website has a copy of the university’s anti-hazing policy and the Kansas statute that forbids hazing.

University spokeswoman Jill Jess said the campus has taken concrete steps to confront hazing, including the formation of an anti-hazing task force and the hiring of a full-time conduct officer.

“The awareness that hazing is unacceptable is the first step toward changing the culture that has allowed it to persist,” she said. “The fact that people are coming forward when hazing is suspected is a positive move toward ending this practice altogether.”

Another high-profile hazing incident allegedly took place in September when Matt Fritzie, a freshman from Stilwell, suffered serious head, back and neck injuries after he apparently jumped into a makeshift pool during a party at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity in Lawrence.

Fritzie, 18, was flown by helicopter to the University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kan. In October, the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity was placed on two years of probation after the chapter was found in violation of hazing policies, officials said. But the investigation was not able to substantiate that the hazing resulted in physical injuries, the university said.

The Star’s Dawn Bormann and The Associated Press contributed to this report