U. frat house suspended over alleged hazing
The national Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity has suspended its University of Utah chapter in the wake of an alleged hazing incident, according to U. officials.
Known locally as the Pikes, the chapter had recently come off a one-year probation over the objections of neighbors, who have complained of its members' misbehavior in recent years.
Officials declined to specify what was alleged. Fraternity officials are expected to travel to Utah to investigate the incident, which likely occurred Monday, the beginning of Greek Row's initiation week when pledges are inducted into fraternities, according to Arlyn Bradshaw, the U.'s assistant dean of students over Greek life. The U. is also investigating the matter, which was reported to Bradshaw Tuesday.
Chapter president Jordan Ganung denied any hazing. He is aware of the nature of the allegations, but not who made them, he said.
"They're not true," he said. "Regardless of the validity of these or any claims, our national fraternity's policy is immediate suspension of all activity until an investigation is complete."
He said the suspension will result in cancellation of his chapter's annual fund-raising event benefiting Camp Hobe for children with cancer.
"We're hopeful for a quick resolution," Ganung said.
Fraternity hazing has become an issue in Utah after the alcohol-induced death of a Utah State University freshman during initiation week two years ago. Prosecutors alleged the tragedy resulted from hazing, but none of the 13 students charged in Michael Starks' death was convicted under Utah's hazing statute.
Pi Kappa Alpha's executive vice president, Justin Buck, did not immediately return an e-mail and phone call. The fraternity has 227,000 members at 210 chapters. Its Alpha Tau chapter, which recently relocated to 1431 E. 100 South, is nearly a century old and one of the largest of the U.'s 12 Greek-letter society chapters.
The Pikes have been the subject of numerous complaints and neighbors objected to the U.'s decision to lift the Pikes' probation in September. In a letter to the university president, they described incidents involving Pikes that could meet the definition of hazing forcing someone to do dangerous or humiliating things as a condition for joining a group.
In one incident, a Pike member was caught stealing the coat of arms from a rival frat house, according to a police report. And early one morning during initiation week last spring, residents awoke to the rhythmic pounding of a drum, accompanied by the repeated chant of "Clean it up, clean it up," according to Beth Arnett, a leader in the Federal Heights Neighborhood Association.
Bradshaw said the fraternity deserved to be off probation.
"They did meet the terms of their probation and showed marked improvement over time," Bradshaw said. "The university takes reports of hazing very seriously and that's evidenced by what happened this week."
Another fraternity chapter, Beta Theta Pi, was shut down last spring after its alumni got fed up with its poor performance. That chapter is expected to reopen next fall after a renovation of its house at 70 S. Wolcott.