Campus / Greek Life / News / February 5, 2009

TKE makes changes in wake of allegations

A report submitted by the Greek Task Force and emailed to the student body yesterday encouraged students who feel they have been hazed to come forward.

After the allegations made against Tau Kappa Epsilon by two of their former pledges two weeks ago, the Knox community has wondered what repercussions might result, but the words published in the report echo a statement made by Dean Xavier Romano concerning the matter.

“For years and years, no student, alumnus, pledge, or ex-pledge has ever come to the administration with a hazing complaint,” said Romano.

“Understand this…if anyone, anyone comes to us with a complaint of hazing this administration will pursue the matter aggressively. I don’t give a damn if it’s drinking or physical [hazing], we’ll be there.” When asked what the administration was doing in response to the allegations published in The Knox Student, Romano said that “the administration can’t have a position on something that hasn’t been brought to it.”

While no formal complaint has been brought to the administration, last year such complaints were made within Tau Kappa Epsilon itself. In last week’s article, sophomore Alex Perry alluded to a process through which “infraction will result in the culprit being sent in front of a board of TKEs for punishment or possible deactivation.” TKE has a system of adjudication dictated by it national organization, a process called “Tribunal.” Within this system, any brother or pledge can bring charges against other members for a variety of reasons, including hazing.

When this happens, the Risk Manager, the Academic Chair and a President-appointed brother jointly investigate the matter and report their findings to the chapter a week later, at which point a punishment is decided. While TKE keeps records on incidents brought to Tribunal, they are not shared with other students once the issue is past, and even the punishment is kept private from other students unless the person punished chooses to share it.

However, both the Knox administration and the national organization can ask at any time to see those records.

“Our national doesn’t want the aspects of our ritual made public knowledge, but I don’t see why sharing the charges and the punishments we decided on [with the administration] would be an issue,” said TKE president junior Dan Pers.

“Last year I was a pledge,” said Perry, who is TKE’s pledge educator for this year. “I encountered a situation where I felt that one of the members of my pledge class was being hazed according to the Knox hazing policy, so I went to my pledge educator and talked to him about it.”

When the issue was brought to Tribunal, several active brothers also expressed concern over the incident of hazing, and the matter was dealt with. Since it was dealt with in Tribunal, TKE was unable to share the details of the incident and the resulting punishment, as well as the names of the people involved.

“I became pledge educator this year because I wanted to affect a positive change in TKE. As a pledge I saw some things that I thought were no longer useful, such as how ‘scroll’ was being used.”

“Scroll” is a document pledges sign upon becoming active brothers, providing a record for the order in which they joined. While originally intended to give older members respect from newer members so more recent members would pay attention to advice, several members of TKE admitted that it had devolved into a system for getting back at members.

“‘Scroll was being used for personal grudges,” said sophomore Alex Chandler-Minner. “But our pledge class stopped using it in that manner because we hated it.”

“When I was a pledge, I was ‘scrolled’ into doing push-ups until I puked and cried,” said junior David Gilmer. “That said, I don’t feel it was hazing, because I wanted to be in TKE and afterwards I went to Tribunal to take care of the matter.”

The incident of hazing brought forth by Perry last year spurred TKE to look into changing a number of matters, including bringing back their leadership program, redefining “scroll,” and designing events like weekly movie nights to blur the status line between actives and pledges. TKE also plans to attempt to publicize its philanthropy more actively through its national magazine and The Knox Student. Since the TKS article about TKE’s hazing allegations was published two weeks ago, TKE has decided to discontinue use of the “ramp rule,” and will be stressing the importance of reporting hazing to pledges and informing them of all the possible venues in which to do so.

Tau Kappa Epsilon gives pledges a number of channels to make their concerns heard if they are uncomfortable with coming forward to the fraternity, including contact information for TKE’s alumni advisory board, a hazing hotline, the regional director of TKE, and a form available on the TKE website.

Students are also encouraged to go to the Office of Student Life with complaints of hazing. Each of the fraternities on campus is a member of the North-American Inter-Fraternity Council (NIC), which defines hazing as “any action taken or situation created, intentionally, whether on or off fraternity premises, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule.”

There is disagreement in the Greek community about whether or not TKS’ coverage of the TKE hazing allegations has affected recruitment this year. According to IFC President Randy Geary, there are 21 fewer new Greeks than last year, with only 46 filling in the ranks as opposed to last year’s 67. Geary, however, is not concerned.

“I don’t think that there was that big of an impact as a whole, because these were the expected numbers,” said Geary in an email.

That said, while Sigma Chi welcomed 15 new members, others, like Tau Kappa Epsilon, only received three. Junior Tim Yee was one of the recruitment heads for TKE this year.

“We had about 15 people at our second recruitment event this term,” said Yee. “We were considering six to ten of them seriously, and the day the article was printed I received questions from four to five of the guys asking if it was true. Did we haze? Was it worse than the story said? If anyone thinks that these allegations didn’t affect our recruitment, they’re wrong.”

“Recruitment is stressful enough as it is for prospective members,” said Gilmer. “Adding doubts to that process about hazing the night before Greek Silence when we aren’t allowed to discuss those fears had a definite impact.”

Currently, the administration has no plans to address the TKE allegations, as the Office of Student Life still has not received any reports of hazing.

“I have full faith in the students’ ability to deal with this,” said Dean Romano. “The students have always assimilated change better than anyone else on campus, and they’ll face this challenge, and meet it.”

Check back next week for part two: The Greek system and how it relates to women on campus.

David Nolan

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