Five hazing complaints on campus in the last four years
By Savannah Trantham–
Of five hazing allegations reported on the Tarleton campus during the last four years, two student organizations were found responsible while two others were determined to be not responsible, records show. One of the five allegations remains under investigation.
In each of the five cases, the reports and accusations were directed to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs. Records obtained under the Texas Public Information Act show that Assistant Dean of Students Dana Moore is where they underwent review. Dean Moore and the Office of Student Judicial Affairs “conducted a thorough investigation and administrative hearing” into each.
The cases included allegations that students were pressured to consume alcohol, activities during Homecoming, and requiring pledges to carry items and complete tasks given by active members.
Moore could not meet with Texan News before this story’s deadline to give a comment.
Hazing, as defined under Greek Life on the university’s website, “means any intentional or reckless act occurring on or off the campus of an educational institution, by one person alone or acting with others, directed against a student that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of that student for the purpose of pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization whose members are students at an educational institution.”
Taylor Ball, the assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said many universities and most of Tarleton’s Greek Life organizations adopted a definition of hazing promulgated by the Fraternal Information & Programming Group, a risk management association of men’s and women’s national and international fraternities and sororities. That organization defines hazing as “Any action taken or situation created, intentionally, whether on or off fraternity premises, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule. Such activities may include but are not limited to the following: use of alcohol; padding in any form; creation of excessive fatigue; physical and psychological shocks; quests, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, road trips or any other such activities carried on outside or inside of the confines of the chapter house; wearing of pubic apparel which is conspicuous and not normally in good taste; engaging in public stunts and buffoonery; morally degrading or humiliating games and activities; and any other activities which are not consistent with academic achievement, fraternal law, ritual or policy or the regulations and policies of the educational institution or applicable state law.”
Ball said it is important to remember that hazing can involve student organizations outside the Greek system.
“It isn’t just Greek Life that haze,” Ball said. “If you search hazing you have everything from sports teams, to the band, to intramural teams, to just people in the residence halls.”
“One thing that a lot of people don’t understand, and I think this falls into the sport world and in the fraternity world, is that you can’t consent to be hazed,” Ball said.
“Like even if I asked you right now, ‘I’m gonna bring out my paddle—is it okay if I paddle you?’ And you say, ‘Ya that’s fine.’ It’s still not fine. You just can’t consent to be hazed….They think that they have the ability to say ‘yes, no I want to be forced to drink, I want to be doing all of these things,’ and they don’t realize, because of the culture of the campus, that that’s a negative behavior and that it’s not right.”
Ball also said she thinks more hazing incidents outside of Greek life aren’t reported because people think “it’s not Greek Life so it’s okay.”
The following information about the five hazing allegations reported to the university since 2011 comes from records obtained from the university on Sept. 15, 2014 about the incidents.
* A student reported that on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 she was being pressured to drink alcohol at a Kappa Delta Rho fraternity party. There were many other freshmen and upper classmen students present as well as others who had already graduated. The student said she offered rides back to campus to other freshman girls at the party. While talking with people at the party, a senior female came up and asked the girls if they knew whose house they were at.
“We all looked around and a few of us said ‘Yea we are at the KDR house’ she replied ‘No this is my house, some of the KDR guys just live here,’ she then asked if we were freshman and we all answered yes and then she asked if we were rushing, a few of us said yes we are and one girl said she was unsure, that is when (Name Redacted) pulled the bottle of Fireball Whiskey from under her arm and stated ‘Then you need to take a shot of this,’ grabbed a beer from (Name Redacted) and said ‘Then you’re chugging this.’ I spoke up and informed her I was a designated driver for the night and I would not take a shot nor chug a beer and she simply said ‘Well aren’t you just lucky tonight.’ Earlier that week on Tuesday we had a Greek Life meeting and it was stressed to us that hazing was not tolerated and it would not be done, I was on board for rushing and Alpha Gam was a sorority I was looking into, but after the incident I canceled my Rush application and decided I wanted no part in Tarleton’s Greek Life because of what had happened. I hope that by speaking up this will be taken care of and no other freshman girls or any other girl has to go through that experience.”
This case is a current investigation with the Office of Student Judicial Affairs.
* Executive Director of Student Life Development, Dr. Mike Leese, expressed concern to Dean Moore about hazing with the Plowboy organization. Leese reached out to Director of Student Publications Caleb Chapman on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 by email.
“I am hearing more and more comments about the Plowboys’ behavior at Yell Contest and drum beating. If you could still send me the pictures, which obviously a lot of student leaders have already seen, I would appreciate seeing them,” Lesse wrote.
Chapman responded: “Sorry for not sending these earlier. These are some of the photos taken by The J-TAC during drum beating. Other than then having to lay on the ground and hold the barrel with their feet, their shaved heads and silly clothing are other public displays of hazing (in my mind).”
In an email to Dana Moore, Leese wrote: “Dana, I talked to Rusty briefly this morning about our concerns with the Plowboys during homecoming and the comments from our wrap-up meeting. He indicated that if you believed there was hazing or that action needed to be taken against the Plowboys, you would take care of it. Please let me know if I can be helpful, but obviously I’m not in the discipline business at this point, which is more than fine with me.”
Records show the Plowboys were found responsible. The outcome letter for this report reads, “Our office examined the report and your statement. After weighting all the facts provided your sanctions are as follows: You have received an official warning from the University, as a result facts presented on…[behalf] of the organization. However expectation is this behavior will cease and desist immediately.”
Texan News interviewed Plowboy President Justin Wolff. He said that no longer will they hold the drum with their feet. As an organization, Wolff said, “We ourselves promoted not to do it, we went to a risk management meeting…they discussed hazing and had training on all of it.”
* On Oct. 14, 2011, former Directory of Student Leadership Programs Johnny Robinson sent a memo to Dean Moore explaining hazing accusations against the Sigma Chi Fraternity. A potential hazing incident was brought to Robinson’s attention by a Tarleton staff member and Kappa Delta Rho Advisor Daron Trussell. They felt that Sigma Chi was performing an act of hazing by having the new members accompany active members at a Mi Familia Restaurant on …Oct. 7, 2011. Robinson spoke with new members that were there that night. The new members were told to ‘dress nice’ and they volunteered to be active member’s designated drivers throughout the night. The new members that spoke to Robinson, “stated they had fun during the night and did not feel they did anything wrong.”
Robinson also told Moore in his memo, Sept. 23, 2011 he spoke with a new member who had accepted a bid to join Sigma Chi. “There were quite a few red flags raised within the first week of accepting his bid. (Name redacted) stated their new member syllabus included an anti-hazing policy but felt there were various activities that he did not want to be associated with. (Name redacted) shared that during the first week as a pledge within Sigma Chi he had to clean active members apartments/houses; required to wear all black clothing to chapter meetings; was required to carry a bandana, lighter, and Sigma Chi book at all times. (Name redacted) also stated that each pledge member was given a chain with three links, when they made a mistake a link was removed. Once all three links were taken away, the pledge is expelled from the organization. Finally, (Name redacted) stated if a pledge saw an active member in public they were to address the active member by their first name and last name while introduce themselves by their first and last name while indicating they were a pledge.”
Sigma Chi was found responsible for hazing after the investigation and administrative hearing conducted by the Office of Student Judicial Affairs. The outcome letter reads: “Our office examined the report and your statement. After weighting all the facts provided your sanctions are as follows: With respect to the information listed above, the following additional sanctions/stipulations apply: It is deem[ed] this was not just select members but a systemic, and as a result Sigma Chi Fraternity is required to bring a speaker to campus during Hazing Prevention week during the Fall 2012
Semester. The fraternity must have the prior approval of the speaker from the Assistant Dean of Student before booking any speaker to come to campus.”
Texan News reached Sigma Chi Consul, Christopher Fields. He said he preferred no comment on the incident for now.
The fourth and fifth cases were reported in October 2012 and September 2013. In both of those cases, the student organizations were found not responsible.
In an interview about the incidents, Student Body President Jay Johnson said hazing is “unacceptable.”
“Nothing good really comes from it,” he continued. “I’ve read a few studies about it and you can’t build someone up and help your organization or whatever you’re trying to accomplish by tearing someone down.”
Jack Cochran contributed to this story.