Hazing allegations prompt investigation

Alpha Epsilon Phi is under investigation for allegations of hazing and underage drinking, a University administrator confirmed last week.

The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities received several tips, Assistant Dean of Students Tara Pereira said, that alleged the sorority engaged in hazing, facilitated underage alcohol consumption and distributed alcohol to minors.

“We are investigating these allegations, which we take seriously,” Pereira said.

The investigation, she said, centers on “determining the existence and extent of certain behaviors within the chapter that could significantly impact the health and safety of its members.”

The University, along with Alpha Epsilon Phi’s national organization, directed the chapter to stop its new member initiation process during the investigation. No final decisions have been made about whether or not they will be able to keep this fall’s 51-person pledge class, Pereira said.

Pereira said the tips about AEPhi’s new member practices were “very concerning,” but as per University policy, declined to elaborate on the specific concerns.

Molly Finer, president of AEPhi, directed all questions to the sorority’s national branch, saying the chapter “intends on fully cooperating with the University and our national organization.”

Executive Director of Alpha Epsilon Phi’s national organization Bonnie Wunsch declined to comment.

The allegations come at a time of sustained growth for the Greek community. A record 512 women joined GW’s 10 Panhellenic sororities this year after a 15-percent spike of participants in formal recruitment.

AEPhi – consistently one of the largest sororities on campus – totaled 157 women this year, a 27-person increase from 2010.

To accommodate the expanding sorority population, members of the Panhellenic Association voted late last month to add an 11th chapter to campus as early as this spring.

Three Greek chapters were formally charged with hazing, underage consumption of alcohol and providing alcohol to minors last January after a months-long investigation. Kappa Kappa Gamma, Pi Kappa Alpha and Sigma Phi Epsilon all pled “in violation” of the charges. Pereira said hazing charges could be met with a range of punishments including losing University recognition and probation.

The sorority was suspended in 2004 for an anonymous hazing allegation that Pereira said at the time reportedly required candidates to “keep a penny in their shoe” and “wear specific clothing under their street clothes.”

In the Code of Student Conduct, hazing activities “include but are not limited to 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.”

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