UPDATE: ETSU suspends fraternity for 5 years in wake of hazing allegations

Nathan Baker • Mar 21, 2015 at 1:00 AM

The East Tennessee State University chapter of a national fraternity was ordered to end all operations on campus Friday after a judicial board found the organization’s members violated a number of university policies, including hazing pledges, secretly accepting ineligible members, hosting unauthorized parties with alcohol present and intentionally hindering university investigations.

Lambda Chi Alpha immediately filed an appeal of the suspension, but if the punishment stands after the appeal hearing, the fraternity will be ineligible to participate in university activities and barred from recruiting new members, meeting in campus facilities and using school funds for the next five years.

In a letter sent to the fraternity’s off-campus house on West Pine Street, which the chapter leased from the Sigma Nu fraternity, ETSU laid out the results of months of investigation by the Office of Student Affairs into allegations brought forward by a former Lambda Chi brother.

According to the report, in the fall of 2014, the member, who admitted he was allowed by the chapter to join the fraternity two years ago despite being ineligible for membership under ETSU’s requirements, complained that the fraternity frequently accepted such “ghost pledges,” held unsanctioned parties with alcohol and hazed prospective members.

“Interviews were conducted with the complainant, other initiated members of the chapter and one new member, all of whom were willing to come forward concerning hazing, alcohol use, ghost bids, unregistered parties, risk management policy and chapter operations from fall 2012 to the present,” the letter reads.

The allegations of hazing included Lambda Chi members blindfolding pledges, sensory and sleep deprivation and coerced drinking at bid day and initiation events, the report reads. During pre-initiation week, the judicial board found incidents of hazing intensified, when new members were expected to sleep on a basement from from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. each night.

The report states representatives of the chapter appeared at a hearing before the judicial board on Thursday and admitted responsibility for all of the charges except hazing.

Reached Friday afternoon, Tad Lichtenauer, Director of Communications for Lambda Chi Alpha’s national headquarters, said the organization was awaiting ETSU’s decision on the appeal.

“It is our understanding that this matter still has to go through a final appeal process,” he said by email. “Once that process is completed, we will support the university’s decision regarding the future of our Iota-Omicron chapter. Lambda Chi Alpha has a zero tolerance policy regarding hazing and related violations of university conduct codes.”

ETSU’s records show that the local chapter has been on probation since 2011, a punishment levied after members were found guilty of hazing. The fraternity again appeared before the judicial board in 2013, when members were accused of and found guilty of both disorderly conduct and hazing.

University spokesman Joe Smith said he wasn’t sure how many of Lambda Chi’s 35 active brothers and 11 new members were involved in the incidents, but said the Office of Student Affairs is continuing to review the matter to see if individual students will be penalized.

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Previously reported:

Hazing led East Tennessee State University to suspend a fraternity chapter from campus for five years, effective immediately, university officials announced today in a news release.

The university's Judicial Board found that ETSU's Lambda Chi Alpha chapter was responsible for violating sections of ETSU’s Institutional Disciplinary Policies. The violations included hazing and disorderly conduct.

A complaint against the local chapter alleging that hazing had occurred was filed in November. At the time, the fraternity was placed on interim suspension pending the outcome of the investigation.

When speaking to the Press in November, Jeff Howard, the college’s Dean of Student Affairs and the campus’ chief conduct officer, would not reveal specific details of the allegations, but said investigators under his charge had interviewed those reporting the incident and members of the fraternity while gathering intelligence from other sources, including social media.

As a result of the suspension, the fraternity cannot engage in or sponsor any activity, recruit new members or hold any meetings for the next five years.

ETSU officials said any organization that has been suspended is prohibited from using university resources, equipment, facilities, services or funds, as well as participating as an organization at a campus event.

The fraternity may appeal the decision to the Vice President for Student Affairs.

Lambda Chi Alpha is a national fraternity based in Carmel, Indiana. The ETSU chapter was established in 1956.

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