Ohio University suspends all IFC fraternities after hazing allegations

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ATHENS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio University has suspended operations of all Interfraternity Council (IFC) fraternities on its Athens campus after allegations of hazing.

According to the university, the decision to suspend fraternities was made after allegations of hazing against seven chapters.

The suspension means all chapter events, meetings, and activities are stopped until further notice.

NBC4 reached out to the IFC President on Ohio University’s campus but never heard back. Judson Horras, President and CEO of the North American Interfraternity Conference sent the following statement:

“Hazing is a serious societal issue, and we strongly believe in holding individuals accountable. However, Ohio University’s suspension that impacts students not accused of misconduct is not the right approach to address this critical issue. It disincentivizes students who are following the rules.

We implore the university to bring all parties to the table to seek a path forward that places the highest priority on the health and safety of students, while respecting the rights of those that live up to the standards of fraternal excellence.”

No students who are in fraternities at OU who NBC4 talked to wanted to talk on camera about the suspensions. They either said they had no comment or couldn’t comment. Other students who are not unaffiliated say they understand why the university is taking disciplinary action. 

Gary Whinthorpe looked into becoming a member of a fraternity but said he decided not to because he already had a lot going on. He says he knows a lot of students in fraternities. 

“There’s a lot of great guys in there, I just hope to make sure all the kids are safe, everything’s good but I still think it’s good to take precautions for the student safety,” he said about the university’s decision. 

“I’m glad that they’re trying to put a stop to it because I had some friends that were going into fraternities and sororities and they were really worried about the hazing,” said Gabby Coker,  a student at OU. “I don’t see the problem with having fraternities and sororities. just make them do things that are safe. There’s no reason for the hazing so I hope there will be progress.” 

The following letter was sent to IFC chapter presidents:

Dear IFC Chapter Presidents, Being a member of the Sorority and Fraternity community at Ohio University gives you the ability to make a tremendous positive impact on OHIO students, our campus, and our community. The values that your organizations espouse encourage members to hold themselves to a higher standard. However, when individual members or organizations fail to live up to the standards and values set forth by the university, chapters and inter/national organizations, the entire Sorority and Fraternity community suffers.

Last spring, Sigma Pi was expelled from our community as a result of hazing. Earlier this week, we received allegations that two IFC chapters were hazing new members and those chapters were placed on a cease and desist from Community Standards and Student Responsibility (CSSR).

Yesterday, we received reports of hazing that encompassed five more chapters. Those chapters will be receiving their notice of investigation and cease and desist letters from CSSR within the next few days. It is deeply troubling that seven of our Interfraternity Council (IFC) chapters have been or will be under investigation this semester for possible violations of the University’s Student Code of Conduct. These troubling allegations, which will be thoroughly investigated, indicate a potentially escalating systemic culture within our IFC organizations, and Ohio University will not put at risk the health and safety of our students. As a result:

I am hereby suspending all chapter operations for Interfraternity Council chapters until further notice, effective immediately.

This proactive step is being taken so that the IFC community can pause to reflect and create actionable strategies for the future. To ensure the future of fraternity life on our campus, innovative practices will need to redefine our Greek community so that it positively contributes to the full well-being of students. Our expectation is that each chapter will develop a plan and implementation timeline to ensure that the culture of their organization is aligned with the stated values of our Sorority and Fraternity community, responsibilities outlined in the University’s Student Code of Conduct and expectations of their respective inter/national organization.

As always, we will make the resources of the Division of Student Affairs and specifically the Sorority and Fraternity Life Office

During the interim suspension, IFC chapters will be prohibited from holding new member events, council or chapter meetings, chapter events such as socials, philanthropy, retreats, intramurals, and organized participation in Homecoming. Members of MGC, NPHC and WPA organizations will be notified of the suspension as well and will be expected to honor it. For now, sophomore members will be allowed to remain as residents in their fraternity house. The only events or meetings that chapters and members will be allowed to attend will be those planned by either the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility or the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life.

Chapter leadership is required to provide notice that your chapter has been issued this directive to all members of your chapter, including new members or any yet-to-be initiated members involved in a new member or “pledge” process. You must send this notice via email, with a copy to OUGreekLife@ohio.edu, by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 4. Your email must explicitly state that no further activities may occur unless they are essential activities approved in advance by the Director of Sorority and Fraternity Life and the Director of Community Standards and Student Responsibility. You are encouraged to include a copy of this letter with your notification message.

Failure to comply with the terms of this directive may result in disciplinary action under the Student Code of Conduct, including individual charges, if applicable.

I know that all of you have the ability to meet our expectations by operating as values based organizations, but we need to see action from every IFC chapter. It is critical that we create a culture that reflects the values of the Ohio University Sorority and Fraternity community. We need your support in making clear that misguided and inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated.

If you have been subjected to or have witnessed hazing, please report it by using this link: https://www.ohio.edu/student-affairs/community-standards/report-incident

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