Union’s administration has confirmed that three reports of hazing at Union fraternities were filed within the past three weeks and that investigations into the reports are underway.
President of the Interfraternity Council Tim Hagan ’16 said in a statement, “IFC has a strict anti-hazing policy, and we are cooperating in every way possible with this issue.”
Administrators have declined to give any information about the reports, aside from dates of the three claims they were willing to confirm, citing potential disruptions to an ongoing investigation by the Campus Safety Department.
Administrators received the first report on Sept. 28, according to communications with Dean of Students Steve Leavitt, and new member education activities were suspended for all fraternities until the following day, Sept. 29. It was an anonymous report, and sororities were not affected by the new member education suspension, said Leavitt.
Anonymous hazing reports can be filed online, through the Fraternity and Sorority Life page on Union’s website.
The form to report a hazing incident requires the date the alleged hazing incident took place, the organization’s name and a description of the alleged incident. The form leaves optional the names of individuals involved in the alleged acts of hazing and the contact information of the person submitting the report.
Director of Greek Life Liz Artz confirmed on Oct. 5 a second hazing claim, which apparently was filed the previous Friday, Oct. 2.
The Campus Safety Department worked with Artz to conduct interviews with fraternity members and investigate at least one of the first two hazing claims that were filed, according to Director of Campus Safety Chris Hayen.
An additional anonymous hazing report, filed on Oct. 8, launched a Campus Safety investigation, listed on the crime and fire log published in the Concordiensis this week, into the hazing claims, as the information in the report was severe enough to qualify, if proven true, as hazing in the first degree under New York state penal law, said Hayen.
Hazing in the first degree is defined as when “A person (…), in the course of another person’s initiation into or affiliation with any organization, (…) intentionally or recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of physical injury to such other person or a third person and thereby causes such injury.”
Previous reports were not included in the crime and fire log because the log only includes those crimes that meet misdemeanor or felony definitions.
Hazing in the second degree is a lesser offense than hazing in the first degree, by New York state law, and only qualifies as a violation, not a misdemeanor of felony. Its definition differs from hazing in the first degree in that it does not cause injury, but it does put others at “substantial risk of physical injury.”
In addition, Hayen stated, “College policy on hazing includes a broader definition of hazing than NYS law,” so, he said, “there may be cases in which college policy on hazing is violated but no crime has been committed by legal definition.”
Union’s Student Handbook defines hazing as “any action taken or situation created as an explicit or implicit condition for initiation into, admission into, affiliation with, or continued membership in a group, organization, or team that: (1) could be seen by a reasonable person as endangering the physical health of an individual or causing mental distress to an individual through, for example, humiliating, intimidating, or demeaning treatment; (2) destroys or removes public or private property; (3) involves the consumption of alcohol or drugs, or the consumption of other substances to excess; or (4) violates any College policies.”
The Student Handbook outlines the college’s response and potential sanctions for allegations of hazing. Sanctions against a Greek organization can include notification of the group’s national office, loss of ability to host social events, loss of housing for the Greek organization and “individual sanctions for officers (…) up to and including suspension or expulsion.”