Multiple Greek chapters at VCU have been suspended in past years for hazing and some remaining chapters are restructuring their pledging procedures as a result.
Since 2010, the Delta Phi Omega sorority, the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority have all been suspended for hazing practices. In light of a string of hazing-related deaths nationwide, the national organization of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity made effective March 9 that its new-member pledging program will be eliminated entirely.
All SAE chapters are now required to abide by this change. The reform stems from the deaths of nine SAE students at various universities around the country since 2006. Nationally, there have been more than 60 hazing-related deaths since 2005.
“The (VCU) chapter will have to reevaluate and reshape how they do member education and development, but this should not change the way they recruit,” said Neil Stanglein, VCU’s coordinator for fraternity and sorority life. “The new member education process should be to enhance his fraternity knowledge and experience … not detract from it.”
Although the SAE chapter at VCU has had no reported incidents of hazing, they are required to abide by the new legislation passed by the national organization. Stanglein said SAE’s initiation process will be concluded within 96 hours.
“Sigma Alpha Epsilon will still recruit how they normally recruit and will just initiate sooner,” Stanglein said. “Then member development begins for those newest members to learn about Sigma Alpha Epsilon.”
In May of 2013, VCU’s chapter of the Delta Phi Omega sorority was suspended for the 2013-14 school year after a hearing conducted by the Multicultural Greek Council Judicial Board in 2010 found DPO guilty of harassing, intimidation, hazing and pre-recruitment intake and new member activity documentation.
Linda Hancock, Ph.D., director of The Wellness Resource Center and former faculty adviser for Delta Phi Omega, said she is unaware if DPO plans on returning to VCU as an active chapter.
The Sigma Gamma Rho sorority at VCU was also suspended in spring of 2011, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority was suspended in fall 2010 for hazing practices. The Sigma Gamma Rho sorority will return to VCU as an active chapter on April 4.
When the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life receives a hazing allegation, Stanglein said each is fully investigated in partnership with the VCU Police and the organization’s national headquarters. He also said all new members are generally interviewed individually by university administration in regard to its new member process.
“Once all the information is compiled, the council judicial officer and university administration review the material,” Stanglein said. “The office also works with the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity regarding individuals in the process so they can be held responsible through the university.”
Organization violations sometimes intersect with the VCU Code of Conduct policies. These are handled on an individual basis, whereas group sanctions are administered through Student Activities and Commons.
“Historically groups at the university have reported themselves appropriately; there are very few examples of people getting referred to this office. Typically what happens are that people are referred here individually and they just happen to be affiliated with that group,” said Karen Belanger, director of student conduct and academic integrity.
In the past, Belanger said individual offenses within fraternity and sororities have mostly involved alcohol and fraud violations.