Alcohol and hazing among the reasons three fraternities get suspended at Ohio State. Credit: Cori Wade | Assistant photo editor

With the start of spring semester comes Greek life recruitment, but three more fraternities have been added to the list of suspended organizations for violations such as hazing and alcohol. 

Zeta Beta Tau, Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Pi had their statuses as Ohio State student organizations revoked by Ohio State in the second half of fall semester. Sigma Pi and ZBT’s registration as a student organization will be revoked until August 2023 and Phi Delt’s will be revoked until August 2024. 

Both Sigma Pi and Phi Delt were found in violation of the Code of Student Conduct for hazing. Sigma Pi and ZBT were found in violation for alcohol, and Phi Delt and ZBT were found in violation of failure to comply with university or civil authority. 

ZBT President Hunter Goldman, a second-year in business, said in an email that the brotherhood built in ZBT is valuable to members of the chapter as well as to the community. 

“We hope that the university is able to see the merit in reinstating us as a student organization in the future, but until then we will continue to serve our community through service and philanthropy as we have in the past,” he said. 

Representatives for Phi Delt and Sigma Pi did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication. 

Outgoing Interfraternity Council President Jake Severyn, a fourth-year in accounting, said in an email that the removal of a fraternity often occurs because the chapter put the health and well-being of members and others at risk and the Greek community “in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.”

“Every day, the members of the Greek community spend their time planning philanthropy events, performing community service, and working hard to develop themselves into leaders of the future,” Severyn said. “Our members are trying to add value to the Ohio State community and are constantly being criticized for actions that only involved a small percentage of our members.”

As of the first day of spring semester, eight fraternities are not registered student organizations, according to a list posted by the Office of Student Life. In addition to the three most recently suspended fraternities, others include Alpha Epsilon Pi, Phi Kappa Psi, Sigma Alpha Mu, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Theta Tau.

Although organizations that are not recognized by the university are not afforded the rights and privileges of a registered organization such as opportunity to apply for operating and programming funds, a list of unrecognized organizations posted by the Office of Student Life states that “some of these organizations continue to operate despite action taken by the university.”  

“We encourage you to review an organization’s status before becoming involved with it, especially because sometimes an organization’s status is revoked due to serious concerns,” the document states. 

Severyn said larger problems often occur when fraternities operate as unrecognized organizations by continuing to risk student safety and harming recruitment of active organizations. 

Each outcome letter from the code of conduct stated that the chapters’ efforts to eliminate “underground” activity will be considered when determining whether the chapter is allowed to be reestablished. 

Phi Delta Theta 

Phi Delt had its registration revoked Nov. 8, 2019, for violations of alcohol, endangering behavior and failure to comply with university or civil authority that occurred during the 2018-19 school year, according to the code of conduct outcome letter. 

“Based on the investigation, there was an ongoing systemic failure to prevent, intervene or report multiple and repeated acts of hazing,” the outcome letter said. 

Hazing is defined by the code of conduct as “doing, requiring or encouraging any act, whether or not the act is voluntarily agreed upon, in conjunction with initiation, continued membership, or participation in any group, that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm or humiliation.”

The violations included confining new members to the house for consecutive days prior to initiation and taking their BuckIDs, wallets and phones, according to the letter. 

New members also completed tasks such as running errands and driving older members to bars and participated in “line-ups,” in which they were required to hold “stress positions” such as wall-sits and “the beetle,” according to the letter.  

Phi Delt had been issued an interim suspension Aug. 30, 2019, but did not comply with the suspension by hosting an event at an annex the following day and a chapter meeting Sept. 2, 2019. 

Zeta Beta Tau

ZBT had its registration revoked Nov. 8, 2019, for violations of alcohol, endangering behavior and failure to comply with university or civil authority. 

ZBT was found to have provided or permitted alcohol to be consumed by underage Ohio State students at an Aug. 24, 2019, event and at least one student became “intoxicated to the point of experiencing an adverse reaction, requiring attention from university staff and Ohio State University Police Department,” according to the outcome letter. 

Later, ZBT had an event with alcohol Sept. 21, 2019, which violated an Aug. 27, 2019, directive to have no events with alcohol until further notice. 

The chapter had also received “clear guidance” from the code of conduct in a 2017 outcome letter in response to allegations of alcohol, hazing and endangering behavior. The university received six reports of similar behavior after issuing the 2017 letter, according to the 2019 letter. 

Failure to follow the directive prohibiting events with alcohol was discussed at the hearing as part of the investigation, and chapter leadership said that when the chapter was informed that prior conduct history would be considered in sanctioning, members responded, “Why waste the weekend?” according to the outcome letter. 

The letter said the chapter did not show it was willing to “initiate a culture change.” 

“In short, the chapter had all of the information, education and motivation to follow risk management policies and university directives. What it lacked was the desire to do so,” the letter states. 

Sigma Pi 

Sigma Pi’s registration was revoked Nov. 25, 2019, for violations of hazing and alcohol. 

During the fall 2019 semester, new members were asked to run errands for initiated members to earn signatures and were required to to hold “stress positions” such as wall-sits and push-ups as a consequence for missing quiz questions during new member meetings. 

New members also had to serve as sober monitors, door security and bartenders, and alcohol was made available to new members, some of whom were underage. 

The outcome letter also cited a lack of communication  from the Sigma Pi headquarters and local advisers and said it did not give Ohio State reason to believe the chapter “will receive the appropriate guidance or support to be successful conducting itself within the expectations of the Code of Student Conduct or the sorority and fraternity community.”