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Updated 10:00 AM October 25, 2004
 

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University investigating reports of hazing


Two fraternities have been suspended as an investigation proceeds into a number of hazing and alcohol policy violations that may have occurred on- and off-campus between Oct. 6 and 10.

Susan Eklund, interim dean of students, says University staff began to receive reports Oct. 11 of potential acts of hazing related to students pledging fraternities and sororities. The reported incidents, which involved five U-M fraternities and two sororities, included extreme misuse of alcohol and activities that could have resulted in serious harm to students.

"There is simply no room for hazing in our community. We will not tolerate it," Eklund says. "We are extremely fortunate that no one was seriously injured or killed."
"There is simply no room for hazing in our community. We will not tolerate it."—Susan Eklund, interim dean of students

University officials reported the incidents to the Department of Public Safety and Ann Arbor Police, who are conducting their own investigations.

Michigan has a new anti-hazing law that went into effect in August. The law was prompted, in part, by an incident at U-M in September 2003 in which a Sigma Chi pledge suffered dehydration and kidney failure after being made to exercise for long periods of time without water. The fraternity was closed in the wake of its serious violation of anti-hazing policies.

The University launched an extensive advertising and poster campaign this fall to educate students about the law. More information is at http://www.umich.edu/~ovpsa/hazing/.

In addition to the possibility of criminal charges, potential discipline in response to the current allegations could include sanctions against the fraternities and sororities by their national chartering organizations and/or the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association, as well as disciplinary proceedings against individual students by the Office of Student Conflict Resolution. Student leaders in the Greek community have strongly condemned the hazing behavior. Two fraternities already have been suspended by their national organizations, one for hazing allegations and another for violations of the fraternity's alcohol policy.

Eklund says she isn't certain whether the large number of reported incidents means that hazing is on the increase, or if it is an indication of students' greater willingness to report such behavior.

"After the Sigma Chi incident, we had a lot of discussion about the need for students to come forward and expose these unacceptable practices. I am hopeful that we are beginning to break through the culture of silence and that this can help us eradicate hazing."

Eklund says hazing is "contrary to our aspirations to promote a safe and healthy living and learning environment, one in which our students can be fully engaged academically and participate in a vibrant student community." She notes that such behavior violates the values of Greek-letter organizations and casts a negative shadow on the positive efforts that fraternities and sororities pursue at the University.

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