Cat Food and Ghost Pepper Soup: University of Texas Closing Down Pi Kappa Phi Over Hazing Allegations

Fraternity shut down for four years, national leaders decline to appeal ban.

The Dallas Morning News | Rebekah Allen | October 31, 2019

AUSTIN — Another student organization at the University of Texas is being shuttered after allegations of hazing.

This month, the university handed down a four-year ban to Pi Kappa Phi because of hazing that occurred in fall 2018 and this spring.

Pi Kappa Phi national leaders said they will waive their right to appeal and accept the university’s sanctions.

“Upon learning the details of the university investigation, the Pi Kappa Phi board of directors agrees with the university administrative disposition that closing the chapter was the only appropriate action,” said Chief Executive Officer Mark Timmes. “Hazing has no place in the fraternity and is contrary to our fraternal values.”

An investigation by the University of Texas’ Office of the Dean of Students found fraternity pledges were shot with airsoft guns, forced to eat a spicy soup made with ghost peppers and cat food and compete in relay races running back and forth between the chapter house and a nearby apartment building while chugging milk mixed with hand soap, laundry detergent or vinaigrette. New pledges were also interrogated while standing in troughs of ice.

Pledges told investigators they were placed in a room in the chapter house called the “hazement,” which was a small closet with no light. They were forced to complete a 500-piece puzzle in the dark room that was lit by a blinking strobe light, while electronic dance music blared.

Pledges were also forced to be “on call” for acts of servitude to senior members of the fraternity, for cleaning the house and providing rides to bars and other locations. They were commanded to do calisthenics, such as running laps around the frat house.

As part of an initiation process, the active members picked up pledges on campus, put black bags over their heads, and drove them around for up to two hours while forcing them to listen to “disturbing music.”

This is the third hazing violation for Pi Kappa Phi in eight years.

Pi Kappa Phi faced investigations for hazing in 2011 and 2016 over allegations of forced alcohol consumption and eating unwanted substances, and sleep deprivation. In 2011, the university allowed the fraternity to continue to operate under a mutual resolution agreement, and in 2016, the university placed the fraternity on probation for a year and required educational reviews for members.

Last year, the university also banned the Texas Cowboys, the student organization best known for shooting Smokey the Cannon at football games. That ban was ordered for hazing that occurred the night before a car accident that fatally injured student Nicky Cumberland. The group is banned until 2025 but can be considered for early reinstatement in 2022.

In 2018, the university also banned Sigma Alpha Epsilon from campus for hazing. However, that fraternity continues to operate under the name Texas Rho in an off campus capacity that is not recognized by the university.