Monday, March 21, 2011

Michigan SAE's Closed Over Hazing Allegations

U-M fraternity closed over hazing allegations

By David Jesse

A University of Michigan fraternity has been closed, and its members face possible further university discipline, after allegations of hazing were raised by a pledge's parent.

The allegations were investigated by U-M's Interfraternity Council, made up of representatives of all the fraternities on campus. The council, which took the action Wednesday, did not say which allegations, if any, were proved.

The fraternity's national organization also has disbanded the U-M chapter for the year, but it will allow a new chapter to form next year.

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter hazed its pledges last fall, hitting them with broomsticks, shooting them with Airsoft guns, making them drink regurgitated water with goldfish in it and making them pay for strippers, a parent of a pledge
alleged in an e-mail to U-M officials in January.

The fraternity initially was suspended in February.

The fraternity council said the university also may pursue disciplinary action against individual fraternity members.

"The chapter will now begin a process of redevelopment as staff and alumni leaders work with members on a plan that ensures they meet all of our criteria and guidelines for chapter operations," the SAE national headquarters said in a release Thursday.

Chapter officers couldn't be reached for comment Friday.

"We are confident our chapter can emerge from redevelopment and again become a recognized and participating member in the IFC," Kevin McKay, president of the chapter's alumni organization, said in an e-mailed statement.

It's unclear how often U-M's greek council has acted against other fraternities. "Those actions have no relevance to this action, and so I choose not to provide that information," said Chris Haughee, assistant director of Greek Life at U-M.

Two greek organizations were disbanded in 2005 for widespread hazing, according to Free Press archives.

The unidentified parent's complaints were first reported by in February. It's unclear whether the parent's son joined.

The e-mail recounted a litany of pledge tasks: "One event was a relay-race of sorts, with the pledge class broken up into four teams. At the start, each person had to 'chug' a beer (some containing raw eggs) and proceed to run up three flights of stairs that had been adequately doused with dish soap, vegetable oil, Crisco, and other slippery substances."

The e-mail said, "Brothers shot Airsoft guns, threw eggs, poked and tripped them with broomsticks, poured buckets of flour on them."

The e-mail said the next night was entertainment: "Brothers taking hockey slap-shots at the pledge class using tennis balls as hockey pucks" and "brothers violently kicking pledges in the groin to ensure that they were wearing athletic
support cups."

U-M's policy forbids hazing, which it defines as "any action or situation, with or without consent of the participants, which recklessly, intentionally or unintentionally endangers the mental, physical or academic health of a student."

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