Sorority Suspended until 2013 for Hazing
Sigma Delta Tau, individual members sanctioned
BU’s provisional suspension of Sigma Delta Tau (SDT) sorority has been extended until year’s end, and some of its sisters have been suspended individually, following an alcohol-fueled hazing in March, Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore announced yesterday.
Elmore said the sorority’s suspension means that “the organization effectively does not exist.” It deprives SDT of University rooms and space for meetings and events and prohibits it from using the University’s name. Once the suspension ends, the sorority will be on probation for at least the spring 2013 semester, during which time there will be restrictions on its activities.
According to Elmore (SED’87), the details of the restrictions remain to be worked out with SDT’s national headquarters, but they will probably include a ban on events with alcohol and a requirement that members attend programs on alcohol and hazing education. He met with the sorority last night to discuss his decision.
“This wasn’t just one incident,” Elmore said, explaining the rationale behind the sanctions. “This type of incident, where some sisters in the organization were made to go to a location to drink excessive amounts of alcohol, appears to have been happening for some time. That went into our thinking as well. It’s absolutely unacceptable that students should be coerced or even made to feel they should do things they would not normally do and that are against their will.”
Citing privacy laws, the dean declined to disclose the identities and numbers of individually sanctioned students and the duration of any suspensions. He said he understood there would be no criminal penalties. Hazing is a misdemeanor in Massachusetts, and is punishable by a fine of up to $3,000 and one year in jail. He noted that the University’s anonymous tip site for reporting conduct infractions has a specific link for reporting hazing allegations.
SDT was temporarily suspended while the University investigated the March 3 hazing, which precipitated the medical transport of a drunk female student from a house on Ashford Street. An hour later, officers from the BU Police Department found three men helping a second intoxicated woman, who was also taken to the hospital. Both women were treated and released. The police traced the two women to an SDT hazing at an off-campus residence.
The Panhellenic Council, which governs Greek organizations at BU, also had suspended its recognition of SDT. “We fully agree with the University’s decision” on sanctions, said council president Marisa Feehan (CAS’12), adding, “We will welcome them back with open arms next spring.” During the suspension, SDT will not participate in Splash or in sororities’ fall open houses, Feehan said, and it cannot run philanthropic, recruitment, or other events.
Also supporting the sanctions is SDT’s national headquarters. “Sigma Delta Tau has a zero tolerance policy on hazing,” said Ann Braly, the sorority’s national executive director. “We will be providing comprehensive support, retraining, and educational programming to the BU chapter when we return to active participation in January 2013.” She said SDT is a sponsor of HazingPrevention.org, which develops antihazing programs, as well as initiatives to prevent bullying and to encourage bystanders to intervene in risky situations to help others.
The hazing also involved brothers from Alpha Epsilon Pi, an off-campus fraternity not recognized by the University. Brothers from AEPi are facing a hearing in Brighton District Court next week over their own alleged hazing incident last month, the court clerk’s office says. That incident led the fraternity’s national organization to shutter the BU chapter. Fraternity brothers are charged with hazing five pledges by making them strip to their underwear, binding them together, smearing food on them, and striking them on the back, leaving welts.
Elmore said his office is investigating the AEPi incident. Because the group is not recognized by BU, any punishment by the University would be meted out to student members.
SDT’s national organization has been “wonderfully” supportive and collaborative during the investigation, Elmore said, with the probationary restrictions “following a bit of their lead” in handling the chapter. “I am impressed with the level of seriousness they had about this.” The organization’s culture gives him hope, he said, that “these students and this organization can be at the University and eventually thrive here again.”47 Comments