Boston University suspended a sorority for the remainder of 2012 and individually suspended some of its student members this week after investigating a recent hazing in which underage women were allegedly forced or encouraged to drink, even to the point of hospitalization.
“This wasn’t just one incident,” BU Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore said in a statement. “This type of incident, where some sisters in the organization were made to go to a location to drink excessive amounts of alcohol, appears to have been happening for some time. That went into our thinking as well. It’s absolutely unacceptable that students should be coerced or even made to feel they should do things they would not normally do and that are against their will.”
Sigma Delta Tau had been temporarily suspended following a reported hazing two months ago, officials said.
On March 3, campus police said an intoxicated female student had to be taken away in an ambulance from a home on Ashford Street. About one hour later, police said three men were found helping a second drunk woman who needed a medical transport.
BU Police said the women, both of whom were treated and released, were traced back to an SDT hazing at an off-campus residence.
The suspension of the sorority means that “the organization effectively does not exist,” said Elmore. He met with the sorority Tuesday night, according to the school’s news website, BU Today, which first reported the sorority’s extended suspension Wednesday.
During the suspension, the sorority cannot use university space for meetings or events and is banned from using the school’s name, campus officials said. When the suspension is lifted in January 2013, the sorority will be on probation for at least that spring semester, during which some restrictions will be placed on the group’s activities.
The probationary restrictions will be worked out with the sorority’s national headquarters, and will likely include a ban on events with alcohol and a requirement that members attend programs on alcohol and hazing education, Elmore said.
The dean, citing privacy laws, declined to say how many students were individually suspended, for how long they are suspended for and their identities.
No criminal punishments are expected, he said.
Hazing is a misdemeanor, according to Massachusetts law. It is punishable by a fine of up to $3,000 and one year in jail.
A council that governs Greek organizations at BU also suspended its recognition of the sorority, according to the university. Sigma Delta Tau's national headquarters said it supported the sanctions.
“Sigma Delta Tau has a zero tolerance policy on hazing,” Ann Braly, director of the national sorority, told the school’s news website. “We will be providing comprehensive support, retraining, and educational programming to the BU chapter when we return to active participation in January 2013.”
The March 3 hazing also involved brothers from Alpha Epsilon Pi, an off-campus fraternity BU does not recognize.
Members of that fraternity are scheduled to face a court hearing next week over a separate alleged hazing incident in April, the university said. The incident led the fraternity’s national organization to shut down the BU chapter.
The school is investigating that incident, but because the fraternity is not recognized by the university, the school can only penalize student members individually, officials said.
The university said it offers an anonymous tip site for reporting misconduct, including a specific link for reporting hazing incidents.
On Monday, BU said it will create a campus crisis center that will focus rape and sexual assault prevention and support for victims of such acts as well as other forms of physical abuse, such as hazing.
That announcement came in the wake of the two reported hazing episodes involving SDT and AEPi along with two alleged sexual assaults and several dormitory shower peeping incidents this academic year.
E-mail Matt Rocheleau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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