Why Ohio's Miami University is cracking down on fraternities

Miami University in Ohio has suspended two fraternities and placed another on probation for hazing and conduct issues. The crackdown follows a national trend against Greek organizations.

Aaron Bernstein/Reuters/File
A general view of the Delta Tau Delta house is pictured at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 2012. The public university has suspended two fraternities (not pictured) and placed another on probation for hazing rituals and misconduct.

The start of the school year means pledging to join fraternities or sororities for many college freshman. But students attending Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, have fewer fraternities to choose from this school year.

The public university has suspended two fraternities and placed another on probation for hazing rituals and misconduct.

Sigma Nu, Phi Kappa Psi, and Kappa Sigma were all disciplined by Miami University administration for hazing rituals and conduct violations. Sigma Nu and Phi Kappa Psi were both suspended. Kappa Sigma was placed on probation and is no longer recognized by its national organization. These disciplines follow a crackdown on hazing by the university administration.

“We will never tolerate hazing,” Jayne Brownell, Miami’s vice president of student affairs, told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Kappa Sigma was put on probation after a university officials investigated reports of hazing and found the fraternity was requiring pledges to attend 3:30 a.m. workouts, to clean other members’ rooms, and to buy food for older fraternity brothers.

Sigma Nu was suspended in May for detrimental hazing practices. The fraternity banned pledges from shaving or showering. Pictures of the unkempt pledges were then shared via Snapchat and text messages. Reports also suggested that the fraternity had encouraged pledges to drink 100 beers and tally them on their chests.

At Phi Kappa Psi, university administrators found “inappropriate” pictures of an individual that appeared to have been taken without consent at an event involving underage drinking. The fraternity was suspended in April. 

Sigma Nu and Phi Kappa Psi appealed their suspensions and recently lost in June and July. The suspensions will stand until 2018 and 2019. In total, the university has suspended six fraternities and Greek organizations.

Ms. Brownell said in a prepared statement that suspensions were unfortunate, but the “safety and well-being of our students is too important to risk doing anything less.”

The suspensions follow a nationwide crackdown on hazing and efforts to reform Greek organizations. The Old Dominion University chapter of Sigma Nu came under fire at the end of August for hanging demeaning banners from their house during move-in day. Photos of nude, unconscious women posted on a private Facebook page at Pennsylvania State University and instances of hazing at the University of Houston and the University of Wisconsin prompted heightened scrutiny of Greek organizations, as The Christian Science Monitor reported in March.

With heightened scrutiny of Greek culture on college campuses, some organizations have also been faced with false accusations of abuse. The University of Virginia chapter of Phi Kappa Psi was featured in a 2014 Rolling Stone story as the center of a college “rape culture.” Police later found no evidence to support the article’s accusations the magazine has since retracted the story.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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