Phi Psi found guilty of hazing, but suspension lifted

The University has found the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity guilty of hazing and providing alcohol to minors, but lifted its suspension pending the imposition of sanctions, a University administrator said Sunday.

An anonymous tip last month prompted a Student Judicial Services investigation into the organization, which included interviewing many members of the fraternity.

Tara Periera, assistant dean of students and director of SJS, said that the fraternity’s suspension has been lifted and that Phi Psi’s national organization will “sanction the chapter and quickly implement a comprehensive redevelopment plan to rebuild the chapter with the support of the University.”

No details regarding the nature of the hazing charges, redevelopment plan, or the reason for lifting the suspension have been released.

Executive Director of Phi Psi’s national headquarters Shawn Collinsworth said he is relieved that the month-long investigation has finally come to a close and is looking forward to reviewing the information the University collected to prove that hazing had taken place.

Phi Psi’s national headquarters conducted its own investigation into the hazing allegations last month and found no evidence that any such activity had occurred.

“That part of the University’s investigation, we weren’t privy to that information they were getting,” Collinsworth said. “As a national organization, we look forward to getting the evidence that the University has allegedly found and reviewing that in the very near future.”

Collinsworth added that the University has not yet told Phi Psi’s national headquarters what a redevelopment project is, or what needs to be achieved by creating it.

“I don’t know what a redevelopment plan is,” Collinsworth said. “The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity’s national headquarters is always committed to working with our host institutions and our chapters with plans to make them successful, and we will continue to do so.”

According to a statement released by GW’s chapter of the fraternity, the organization has not been formally charged by SJS, and admitted no guilt in the situation, but are going to work with the University to ensure that the fraternity is operating in accordance with the Code of Student Conduct. Phi Psi has been “earnestly and openly cooperating with GW and our National Headquarters to address operational concerns the University observed during the course of their investigation,” the statement said.

They added, “The chapter is moving forward with the University and Headquarters to continually improve our fraternity and was proud to initiate the 21-man Alpha Nu pledge class into Phi Kappa Psi on Saturday.”

While GW has strict policies regarding hazing, many typical fraternity events blur the line of what is legal and what is not. Hazing, according to GW’s Code of Student Conduct, is defined as “any action taken or situation created, intentionally, with or without consent, whether on or off campus, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule.”

Activities constituted as hazing are defined as “paddling in any form; creation of excessive fatigue; physical and psychological shocks; quests, treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, road trips, or any other such activities carried on outside the confines of the house or organization; wearing, publicly, apparel that is conspicuous and not normally in good taste; engaging in public stunts and buffoonery; morally degrading or humiliating games and activities; and any other activities which are not consistent with the academic mission of the University.”

Despite the charges levied against the fraternity, Dean Harwood, director of GW’s Greek Life, said that Phi Psi “remains fully recognized by GW.”

Past hazing charges have led to Greek-letter groups being removed from campus. The most recent Interfraternity Council-recognized fraternity to be kicked off campus for hazing was the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, which was removed from campus in 2004. DTD was found to be guilty of the same charges as Phi Psi – hazing and serving alcohol to minors. Details of the DTD hazing incident in 2004 were never released.

In 2007, several members of the unrecognized fraternity Alpha Pi Epsilon, also known as APES, reported severe hazing violations to the University, saying they feared for their safety as the fraternity’s “hell week” approached. While the details of the hazing allegations were never made public, the allegations were severe enough to involve the Metropolitan Police Department.

Because SJS has found evidence of hazing, the IFC will now meet to determine Phi Psi’s status in the council, IFC President Chas Pressner said. They will either be on fully recognized status or probationary status, depending on the IFC vote.

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