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Ohio State suspends fraternity activity indefinitely

Ohio State Fraternities on East 15th Avenue on Nov. 16. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Ohio State has suspended all activities for Interfraternity Council chapters, effective immediately, the university said Thursday in a letter to IFC presidents. Eleven fraternity chapters have been investigated this semester by Ohio State for violations of the code of student conduct.

Dave Isaacs, a spokesman for the Office of Student Life, told The Lantern the majority of conduct investigations involve hazing and alcohol.

“The university will not tolerate behavior that puts the health and safety of its students at risk,” Isaacs said in a statement.

For now, the suspension includes all chapter activities. Chapter presidents are responsible for submitting a list of “essential activities” by Nov. 20 to the university.

Those lists are then reviewed by the university and need approval before activities continue.

“Until then, you are not to engage in any activities,” the letter from Ryan Lovell, the university’s senior director for sorority and fraternity life, read.

One by one, fraternities at Ohio State have been slapped with various sanctions this semester as part of the university’s increased crack down on Greek life.

Ohio State decided to punish all IFC chapters, not just those being investigated for conduct violations.

“When individual members or organizations fail to live up to the standards and values set forth by the university, your chapters and your international organizations, the entire Greek community suffers,” Lovell wrote.

Ohio State’s decision to suspend all activities for IFC chapters comes four days after The Lantern requested confirmation from the Office of Student Life regarding the conduct violations of four additional fraternities. Those four fraternities are part of the 11 total under investigation this semester.

The university said conduct by Greek fraternities has become concerning, with 11 out of 37 IFC chapters either under investigation or have been investigated this semester. 

Isaacs said this is the most cases the university has investigated in recent years. Lovell called it “an unacceptably high number.”

 

 

IFC at Ohio State makes up a majority of the men’s fraternities on campus.

Ohio State’s IFC president Drew Cooper said the council will work with the university moving forward.

“The health and safety of members of the Ohio State community is our top priority,” Cooper said in a statement. “We commit to collaborating with parents, the University, chapters, and their national or international headquarters to advance safety and accountability in our Ohio State fraternity system. We will continue to advocate for the advancement of tangible solutions to the problems that exist within our community.”

The suspension now in place only applies to IFC and not the Panhellenic Association, or PHA, which is the governing body for women’s sororities. It also does not include Multicultural Greek Council chapters.

Rumors of hazing in Greek communities swirled early on in the semester. The suspension now confirms what many were already talking about.

Following the death of Timothy Piazza, who was in the process of joining a fraternity at Penn State University, Ohio State is the latest college or university to crack down on Greek life throughout the country. Greek life activities at Penn State, the University of Michigan, Florida State University and Texas State have been sanctioned.

Penn State suspended all Greek life activity last spring. Florida State and Texas State suspended all fraternity and sorority activities recently following the deaths of a student pledging a fraternity. Michigan’s IFC suspended its own activities.

Many of the fraternities currently under investigation are repeat offenders. Tau Kappa Epsilon and Sigma Alpha Mu were suspended last month. Tau Kappa Epsilon was suspended from the university for one year in 2001 following an investigation that found the chapter participated in hazing and other “poor behavior.” Sigma Alpha Mu was suspended from campus in 2013 after it failed to comply with university or civil authority, alcohol and disorderly or disruptive conduct sections of the Student Code of Conduct.

With Ohio State’s last home football game Saturday against the University of Illinois, fraternity and sorority row on East 15th Avenue will be much quieter this weekend.

The university made clear in its letter just what activities are considered “essential” and which are not.

“Essential activities may include, but are not limited to, standing chapter/executive board meetings and/or long standing philanthropic events,” the letter states. “Social activities of any kind are not essential activities, nor are any activities that include alcohol.”

With the semester coming to a close soon and new member recruitment, or rush season, on the horizon in January, it is unclear how long the social activity suspension will last.

“This action will allow the IFC community to pause to reflect and create individual, actionable strategies to ensure that the culture of their organization is aligned with the stated values of Ohio State’s Greek community, responsibilities outlined in the university’s Code of Student Conduct and expectations of their respective national or international organization,” Isaacs said.



Statement on the Suspension of IFC Activities (Text)

Nick Clarkson contributed to this story. 

This story has been updated with additional reporting. 

46 comments

  1. I don’t mean to beleaguer this point, however the actual decision reads as follows:

    “The Greek community at Ohio State has a long and rich tradition of leadership, service and brotherhood/sisterhood. However, when individual members or organizations fail to live up to the standards and values set forth by the university, your chapters and your international organizations, the entire Greek community suffers.

    It’s deeply troubling that eleven of our Interfraternity Council (IFC) chapters have been under investigation this semester for possible violations of the Code of Student Conduct, which represents more than a quarter of our IFC chapters. This is an unacceptably high number, and the university will not tolerate behavior that puts the health and safety of students at risk. As a result:

    I am hereby suspending all social, recruitment and new member activities for Interfraternity Council chapters until further notice, effective immediately.”

    The message goes on, however the more important thing here is that all IFC chapters are NOT suspended. That is patently false. Currently the social, recruitment, and new member ACTIVITIES are suspended, but the chapters themselves are not. To say that they are is actually harming the reputation of said chapters, many of whom have done nothing wrong, as well as the reputations of many individual members of said chapters. Please adjust your article to reflect the correct information.

    • Lol welcome to our society, where decisions and rules are made according to the lowest among us. Not all fraternities haze their members, not all fraternities encourage underage drunkeness and debauchery, no all fraternities have shady members who sleep around and abuse girls and have members who will turn a blind eye. It not all fraternities who are bad, but it’s the bottom percentage who will ruin it for everyone

  2. Thank you for changing the body of the article to reflect the truth, however the title of the article is still misleading.

  3. It’s good, to me

  4. If you look up any news article where a fraternity is suspended, the language used by the school is about suspending activities—this is what being suspended *is*. Jake is making a distinction without a difference

    • I politely disagree wholeheartedly. To suspend a chapter is to remove them from campus. That is to say, they have been issued a cease and desist, and they are no longer recognized as a student organization on the campus in question. To suspend activities simply means the university is working to come up with a plan wherein those activities will be allowed to resume, however the student organization remains present and recognized by the university. It is sensationalist at best, and can be considered a “click-bait” title at worst.

  5. But multicultal frats who pretty much compete with each other on who hazes the hardest aren’t touched by the admin.

  6. I noticed the title changed but is still incorrect in regards to the actual facts of the matter – facts that are clearly stated in the article itself. I’m curious as to the intent of the title at this point – the writers seem very aware that the fraternities are not actually suspended indefinitely, simply the activities, and yet they have updated the title.

    • For someone who doesn’t want to beleaguered the point you have failed miserably. Give it a rest already.edits

      • There wouldn’t be a need to continue to beleagure the issue if this article’s title was changed to reflect something as simple as THE TRUTH. It was already changed once, and my confusion rests upon the fact that the article title was changed in a way to further obscure the reality of the situation. It is clear the authors of this article know that the fraternities are not indefinitely suspended. This is, at this point, a crystal clear example of how the media can spin things (regardless of the issue) in a way that hurts all of those involved. Feel free to enter the diagloue in a constructive manner with counterpoints and maybe we’ll help make the world a better place.

  7. Your headline is irresponsible and misleading. Perhaps in an attempt to generate interest with inflatamory wording? It really should be corrected.

    I can respect the university for wanting to take a pause on social and recruiting activities but only if it is followed up by engaging chapters in a dialogue to develop solutions in an expedited manner.

    You can’t be crazy enough to outlaw Greek Life and run the risk of them going underground. The solution lies in finding a way to allow them to exist for the means of Brotherhood, Philantropy, Contibution to University Life and Reasonable Social/“Partying”.

    Pleading is an important part of selecting those that are truly interested in developing brotherhood and loyalty…if done without the concept of “true” or “unreasonable” hazing.

    You can find a good solution. Don’t screw this up Ohio State! I’m confident you’ll figure out a win-win solution.

  8. Many Fraternities and Sororities at Ohio State are already at great risk of disappearing because they cannot have sophomores living in their houses unless prohibitively herculean and costly requirements from the university are met. Their seems to be a total anti-greek bias among universities and the media. My fraternity experience included scholarship, leadership, and brotherhood that has remained with me.

  9. Fraternities at most schools will be suppressed in the next couple of years. This will not be a death of fraternities but a rebirth. They will have to move off campus, but in the process they will be rejuvenated. They should never have allowed themselves to be put under the thumb of university administrations. These are social organizations and nobody can be told who they can or cannot socialize with or when or how or under what circumstances they can socialize.

    • They are already off campus. They’ll just choose to be local. It’s the national tie that hooks them under the boot of the University. Move out of the house; go local; and enjoy yourselves responsibility. The institution can say nothing about it.

    • When kids stop dying from irresponsible groups of morons, we’ll take your view seriously

  10. How about you little rats start doing some real reporting and ask the students. This and the groupme article made national news and defamed OSU students. What kind of community has this kind of bs reporting. Get a life or ask for the real story, you pretend to help spread news at osu but you are causing more problems!

  11. Your name is chad

  12. Thank you for adjusting the title to be more accurate. Good work on adding more updates as they came through.

  13. Whatever the technicalities being bantered about above, the university has found that the student code of conduct is being violated. Students have died during these hazing activities. Not just humiliated in whatever nasty way these guys come up with, they are dead. Taking action is the correct first move for OSU. The Columbus Police Dept and OSU are well aware of which fraternities are the offenders. Not only for hazing but also for sexual assault. Getting young ladies drunk and drugged. It’s ugly. OSU should take it all the way and disband the offending fraternities for good.

    • Andrew, kiss my grits, perkins

      How about tough sht. Tell your little baby to grow tf up and make better life decisions. Instead of telling the world how to live…mind your own gd business. I feel sorry for your precious baby being subjected to the Likes of you trying to constantly shape their environment at everyone else’s expense and preferences.

  14. Andrew, kiss my grits, perkins

    This is a land grab by a university bent on stealing 15th Avenue for as cheap as possible. How many students died from car crashes and pedestrian fatalities? Why don’t you put everyone in a bubble so they don’t hurt themselves. Hypocritical scumbags. These men and women dont appreciate being treated like babysat children by a sack of monkeys acting like they’re demigods subjecting their charges to their whimsical bs decisions. Get your life opinions out of these adults lives!

    • I hope this is not what passes for higher education–comparing car crashes and “pedestrian fatalities”–whatever that means–to being a member of a fraternity is pure nonsense. These groups have no redeeming social value notwithstanding some collection bucket for “kids with cancer” as a pretext for more drinking, abuse, and sexual assault. The perception of fraternities is well deserved and earned: excessive drinking, hazing, bullying, and sexual abuse of female students. Likewise sororities: social cruelty, racism and classism, bullying, and aggressive pressure to conform. Some charitable activity does not come close to balancing the death and destruction of these gangs. Since 1970 there has been at least one death per year associated with fraternity hazing. Fraternities aren’t the only sketchy organization to use philanthropy to cover for other activities. Hell’s Angels donate toys to underprivileged children every year – but the Department of Justice still considers them an organized crime syndicate.
      Student life at colleges and universities would be improved if fraternities and sororities did not exist.

  15. I was a member of Phi Delta.Chi. We had a frat house on 15th Ave just east of Inianola. It was a pharmacy student fraternity so all members were at least in their 3rd year of college. I was elected president in the fall of 1964. The first thing I did was end all hazing, even the relatively mild stuff that had been the tradition. The only alcohol issue we ever had was an old soft drink machine we had rigged with alternating full and empty bottles of beer so it took 20 cents to get one. After an inspection we were told to get rid of it. And we did. There was a vet school frat house that had Friday parties with all you can drink draft beer for a couple bucks but I never really saw any one really intoxicated there. I guess things are different these days. Both the students as well as the OSU Administration.

    • To clarify, these are two different Jake’s. The originally commenting Jake is not a member of a fraternity, this is a separate person.

  16. I was initiated as a Sigma Chi 34 years ago. Through my pledgeship and “hell week” I did not experience any activity/treatment that I would be embarrassed or ashamed to talk about. 30 years later my son went through as well. He was concerned about the process and my advice to him was that if he or anyone experienced “hazing” then that is an organization not worthy of joining. I have been told having pledges come early Saturday mornings to clean the house is ” hazing”.
    Life is about choices, let people make their own.

  17. First off, I’d like to say that as a former active member in a fraternity at Ohio State it pains me to see the lack of insight, transparency, and awareness the administration has executed. It’s no secret that Student Conduct, as well as, IFC are impeccably incompetent at their jobs. Nobody in either office has the courage to stand up for due process, and instead, they broad-brush the entire fraternity system. This does no favors to anyone.

    If there are allegations of hazing, conduct an investigation and if they’re found guilty, proceed further. Suspending a chapter’s operations because of the POSSIBILITY of hazing isn’t fair, nor efficient. By suspending fraternities, now student conduct and IFC have to use much more time, resources, and energy to make sure each chapter is abiding by the cards they’ve (prematurely) been dealt. If there is evidence of hazing, the administration should proceed further and seek justice, but there’s no good in putting the vast majority of law abiding fraternity members in purgatory.

    Hazing has obviously been an issue in Greek Life not only at Ohio State, but everywhere in this country.

    One of the authors of this piece wrote an article last month about the history of hazing at Ohio State, and subsequently quoted blog postings from GreekRank. For those of you who don’t know, GreekRank is a public blog where anybody (including non-Greek people) can rank chapters and post discussions. The bulk of the material on the site could (and should) be construed as satire. The quote below is from the article I referenced.

    From Oct 31st, “Take greekrank.com for instance, the forum and discussion board where anonymous users can rank and comment on fraternities and sororities at different campuses across the country.
    The page on hazing at Ohio State is filled with comments such as, “a frat that doesn’t make you earn your stripes shouldn’t be a frat. It’s not barbaric, it’s tradition and fun.”
    “Yeah there was hazing, as there should be,” the most-liked comment, from March, reads. “It’s pathetic how [politically correct] this society has become. Hazing during pledging is beneficial and even fun. Gives you the best memories honestly.”

    Sure there are some idiots in Greek Life who may actually believe what was said above, but it’s journalistically irresponsible to quote a anonymous blog post, especially when talking about this vast history of Ohio State fraternity hazing back to 2011.

    This isn’t a culture issue. If you want to write about that, go down to an SEC school.

  18. Truth is that Ryan Lovell has fallen down on the job this semester and thinks he can make up for it with a big show like this. Must have been scared he was going to be Waters’d for his failure to do anything about those fraternities which have been repeat offenders. Someone must have noticed Beta’s new house and said, WTF? Meanwhile, those frats with no problems are being screwed so he can save his lazy behind.

  19. Remember that time TBDBITL got in trouble for decades of hazing and they suspended all music activities at OSU? Or, maybe the time the football team got in trouble and they suspended all athletics at OSU?

    Yeah, me neither.

  20. Two years ago, Ryan Lovell hatched a scheme to bring all fraternities under control of OSU using the sophomore-live-in requirements to entice fraternities to be run by OSU according to dormitory rules. Fraternites that did not patricipate could not have sophomore students living in the house. Most smaller fraternites declined to participate in his program. I have no doubt that this is payback for failing to sign up for his program.

  21. These groups have no redeeming social value notwithstanding some collection bucket for “kids with cancer” as a pretext for more drinking, abuse, and sexual assault. The perception of fraternities is well deserved and earned: excessive drinking, hazing, bullying, and sexual abuse of female students. Likewise sororities: social cruelty, racism and classism, bullying, and aggressive pressure to conform. Some charitable activity does not come close to balancing the death and destruction of these gangs. Since 1970 there has been at least one death per year associated with fraternity hazing. Fraternities aren’t the only sketchy organization to use philanthropy to cover for other activities. Hell’s Angels donate toys to underprivileged children every year – but the Department of Justice still considers them an organized crime syndicate.
    Student life at colleges and universities would be improved if fraternities and sororities did not exist.

  22. The “pull the plug action” on all Fraternities by OSU is interesting. Guilt by association is illegal. Behavior issues in the Greek community go back to the start of the Greek community. It is an ongoing part of having exclusive groups who govern themselves. The real fault here lies in the many years of inaction by OSU and IFC to create a common set of values, and to require some discipline around them. Actions should have been taken against the offending parties decades ago. By the same token, it is an unfortunate reality that people today are apparently less able to discern limits and tolerate true diversity. If anyone else should be suspended it should be the OSU administrators who have failed to carry out their responsibility to work effectively with the elected representatives on IFC. In terms of those who want to eliminate Greek life on campus, I suppose that is the natural response of those who either were unable to be a part of that group, or who otherwise do not understand that community. I spent time in both the dorms and in a fraternity, and can testify that the behavior in the dorms was far more dangerous and degrading than that in the frat. And yes, we had hazing, and yes it was tough, and yes I survived without crying and running home to mom. I also survived potty training. Grow up OSU, buck it up Greeks, come to a quick agreement on how to handle this, and move on.

  23. I do not understand why the fraternities and IFC are not suing the school.

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