Abuse of alcohol was a common thread among the investigations into the three fraternities. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Update 1/11 6:00 p.m.: Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Zeta Beta Tau and Beta Theta Pi have been approved by the university to resume recruitment activities as of Thursday evening, according to the website Ohio State created to update the public on the status of suspended IFC chapters. At the time of publication of the article, SAE, ZBT and Beta were not approved for the resumption of recruitment activities, according to the website. For all updates on the status of Ohio State’s IFC chapters, visit https://ohiounion.osu.edu/get_involved/sorority_fraternity/ifc_fraternity_status

Fraternities continue to fall like dominoes in the wake of Ohio State’s investigations into the misconduct of several chapters.

The university levied sanctions on three fraternities with the conclusion of its investigations into the chapters for violations of the Code of Student Conduct.

Beta Theta Pi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Zeta Beta Tau were each placed on disciplinary probation for hazing and alcohol-related violations. Ohio State’s student conduct defines probation as “a state of warning.” During probation, additional violations could elicit “further action up to and including suspension or dismissal.”

Each of the fraternities accepted responsibility for their respective violations.

Beta is on probation through May; SAE is placed on probation through December; and ZBT is on probation through May 2019, according to the investigations released by Ohio State Tuesday.

The three investigations were obtained through a public-records request by The Lantern that was made following the suspension of social activity for all 37 Interfraternity Council chapters in November. At the time, Ohio State was investigating 11 fraternities for various violations, many of which involved hazing and alcohol. However, only three of those investigations were released, with the remaining eight being withheld on the grounds that they are still “open and active matters.”

The Office of Student Life is currently lifting various IFC chapter suspensions once each respective fraternity submits comprehensive plans covering everything from updated recruitment policies to new-member education plans — each with an emphasis on anti-hazing education — as well as detailed alcohol policies.

Once the plans are submitted and approved, the university will determine whether recruitment events, new-member activities and social events are allowed to be held by the fraternity.

Currently, Beta is approved to hold recruitment events and new-member activities but not social events. SAE is allowed to hold only recruitment events, and ZBT is not approved for any of the three.

The Ohio Theta Chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Ohio State located on Indianola Ave. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

The university’s investigation into SAE was sparked by an email sent to a dozen Ohio State officials — including University President Michael Drake and Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, the senior vice president of student life — from an individual who said she was the mother of a member and represented “many other moms of this chapter.” The email detailed hazing activities during the new-member initiation process told by her son.

The sender, whose name was redacted for privacy protection under FERPA, claimed that during the pledge process there was physical abuse that resulted in concussions, “heavy drug use” and “major drug dealers inside this chapter.” She also said members slipped drugs into drinks of pledges and forced pledges to miss class or face additional hazing.

The Lantern was unable to verify the claims written in the email and it’s unclear if the university could authenticate the claims.

Ohio State’s investigation into the Theta chapter of SAE began Sept. 2 and concluded Nov. 1, with a punishment of more than one year of probation. The university found members violated the Student Code of Conduct during a social event after new members received mentors, known as a big/little reveal.

The chapter also hazed new members during an event it calls “True Gentleman Night.”

New members are expected to individually recite the fraternity’s creed in front of the chapter president individually at “True Gentlemen Night,” which the university said “caused or could have caused a substantial risk of humiliation.”

In an effort to eliminate hazing, SAE chapters across the country renamed their initiation process the “True Gentleman Experience” in 2014.

Alcohol consumption at the big/little reveal led to a new member requiring medical attention and “created an environment that caused or threatened harm to the safety” of chapter members, according to the records.

The university also investigated SAE for potential drug abuse within the chapter, but it was not one of the violations listed in the investigation conclusion.

Johnny Sao, a spokesman for SAE’s national offices, said the organization supports the university’s imposed sanctions.

“The national organization is fully cooperating with university officials with implementing policies and procedures to advance the health-and-safety of all Greek-letter community activities,” Sao said in a statement.

Ohio State Zeta Beta Tau fraternity located on Indianola Ave. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Ohio State began its investigation into ZBT after an anonymous source notified Ohio State after coming in contact with a member of pledge of the fraternity around 3 a.m. The witness said the member was written on in Sharpie marker, walking home “and he said ‘ZBT hazes.’”

The university sent the fraternity’s Nu chapter a cease-and-desist order Oct. 6 and investigated allegations of underage drinking at chapter events throughout September. It found new members were drinking underage; a few required medical attention from overconsumption.

In addition to the nearly two years of probation instituted at the investigation’s end on Nov. 15 the university required that the time of new-member meetings cannot be changed to “punish new-member behavior,” according to the records, and the chapter must provide a written summary of several risk-management policies before alcohol was permitted at chapter events starting Jan. 8. However, the university banned one of the chapter’s drinks of choice from all future events — Four Loko.

ZBT’s national office did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on this story.

The Beta Theta Pi fraternity joins Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Zeta Beta Tau on disciplinary probation for hazing and alcohol-related violations. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Beta was placed on probation after the chapter’s national headquarters self-reported infractions to Ohio State, triggering the investigation by the university into the fraternity. The infractions occurred in April during initiation week and were sent to the university in August.

The investigation found that “new members repeatedly consumed alcohol as a part of their new-member education/pre-initiation process and were encouraged or otherwise permitted to egg and/or toilet-paper another fraternity house.”

The chapter must complete a hazing education program aimed at clarifying the “gray area” within hazing before recruitment activities can begin this semester, and an Alcohol Skills Training Program by the end of the probation period.

Justin Warren, a spokesman for Beta’s national office, said the chapter will continue to work with the university in implementing new policies.

“Beta Theta Pi has worked closely with the university throughout this disciplinary process. While disappointed in the chapter’s conduct, we are pleased that our young men accepted full responsibility for their behavior, and are taking important action with the university and our General Fraternity to promote the health and safety of all members,” Warren said.

Additionally, Tau Kappa Epsilon was suspended from campus for three years after Ohio State’s investigation found the chapter guilty of hazing, endangering behavior and alcohol-related violations. The TKE investigation has yet to be released by the university, and the national headquarters for the fraternity said it is currently appealing the suspension.