University of Kansas Suspends Two Fraternities, Alleges Culture of Hazing

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Two fraternities at the University of Kansas face a five-year suspension after University investigations revealed a longstanding culture of hazing. Phi Gamma Delta and Phi Delta Theta will be removed from KU’s campus until Spring of 2027, after all current members have graduated.

Both fraternities were informed of the decision Tuesday by a letter from Tammara Durham, the university’s vice provost for student affairs. In it, Durham outlines a pattern of hazing activities investigated by national fraternity leadership and later reviewed by a university panel.

Investigators found that each fraternity chapter had its own brand of hazing, included activities that destroyed the property of pledges, and subjected them to frequent verbal abuse and physical harm. In the Phi Gamma Delta house, members organized what one investigator described as a “comprehensive hazing program.” Pledges there were undoubtedly “under the control and authority of members every waking minute each day,” the investigation found.

In one alleged case in September, a pledge reported not sleeping for as long as four nights because other members would frequently wander into his room and subject them to “tacoing,” where the beds of pledges would be slammed against the wall while they were in their mattresses. One of the pledges was concussed after being hit against a locker, the complainant wrote. At one point, the complainant described finding the upstairs locker room “trashed, covered in vomit, liquor, pee, old food, trash, and who knows what else.” “When we tried to clean it up, we were told to go immediately to bed without showering and do it in the morning,” the pledge wrote, saying he and others were forced to “sleep in vomit covered sheets.” “I don’t know what else to say other than that being a part of this fraternity has been very difficult, has caused us physical harm, emotional torture, and interfered with our chances of success in college.” Pledges were also required to always carry cigarettes and vaping materials at their own expense for the older household members to use. On some occasions, black garbage bags were placed over the windows for the purpose of concealing whatever would happen inside, the investigation found.

At Phi Delta Theta, one member contacted university officials to report hazing behaviors conducted during the process to become an active member. Pillows and mattresses were routinely thrown from windows, the member reported, and rooms were gone through and personal belongings broken. Another complainant received a wave of messages from fellow house members after information apparently came to light that university officials were put on notice. He was called a “snitch” and “loser” by other house members, the investigation found, and later moved out of state. Other activities cited within the report included forced workout routines. The member who complained also said he was forced to watch a movie in which a dolphin is brutally slaughtered, and was later nicknamed “Dolphin.” Investigations of the fraternities were conducted following other reported hazing activities documented by the university that spanned more than a decade. In one cited example, a Phi Gamma Delta pledge was paralyzed after he dove into a temporary pool constructed in the chapter house’s parking lot. The investigation did not confirm in that case whether the pledge was ordered to take the dive. The two fraternities are the latest in a string of houses to be shut down over hazing allegations.

In November 2020, KU announced it was terminating Pi Kappa Phi until Spring of 2026. In 2018 the national chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon closed its KU chapter for four years. Fraternities at KU came under fire last fall amid nationwide protests over a culture of sexual assault within Greek life. KU students held several protests in response to allegations of rape at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

 

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