The fraternity was placed under suspension Dec. 19, after five incidents occurred within two years, Assistant Dean of Students Steve Veldkamp said.
The suspension was a decision made by the headquarters, the alumni advisory board and the university administration based on “a repeated pattern of mental and physical hazing, drug violations and non-completion of prior judicial sanctions,” Veldkamp said.
Veldkamp said the fraternity received two notable but separate instances of hazing Dec. 5 and 7, one including mental hazing in the form of lining students up to be verbally abused “for long periods of time” and another in the form of physical hazing with extreme exercises and bruising caused by pushing bottle caps into the skin.
“The chapter also continued to host parties with alcohol and in November we received a police report of rampant drug use for an ‘overwhelming amount of marijuana’ with no chapter standards board to hold members accountable,” Veldkamp said.
Phi Psi’s recent suspension came following a past deferred suspension in the spring also on account of hazing. Veldkamp said this deferred suspension came with educational and punitive sanctions, such as a membership review, a new redesigned educational program, educational support and social restrictions.
Veldkamp said he learned later in the fall that the new member education program was never implemented and that hazing and partying with alcohol continued.
“Individually, the lack of following prior sanctions after repeated warnings and chances to make up sanctions, the drug incident and repeated pattern of mental and physical hazing are all triggers for the deferred suspension,” Veldkamp said.
Both Veldkamp and Phi Psi president Matthew Corbett said that before an administrative hearing could be held for Phi Psi regarding the hazing allegations made in December, the Phi Kappa Psi National Fraternity Headquarters and the local alumni board proposed to close the chapter and stated it will restart fall 2017.
Corbett said the individuals involved in the December incidents of hazing were “held responsible for their actions,” and were removed from the chapter.
Despite these actions, Corbett said he believes the fraternity’s case was “mishandled.” He said the Student Organization Ethics Board hearing held for Phi Psi was supposed to be divided in two sections, one that discussed the facts of the case and one that discussed how the fraternity responded to the offenses.
“Our ethics board hearing was cut short after a discussion of the facts, and we never were given the chance to tell the student ethics board what actions we had taken as an organization,” Corbett said.
He said many of the parents of brothers of Phi Psi attempted to contact national fraternity headquarters, only to be met with automatic responses that said the organization was closed for the holidays and would reopen Jan. 4.
Corbett said the parents believed the verdict was handled in an unprofessional manner, given that it impacted 76 students. He said they were given only two weeks to find housing and were unable to ask questions or talk to officials during that time.
Corbett also said he believes Phi Psi and its brothers were mistreated in the decision to be suspended because their chapter should not have been revoked without his input nor “any undergraduate presence involved in the decision.”
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