2015-16 Academic Year
Below are the reports of Cornell hazing violations that occurred during the indicated academic year. To read the details, simply click on the name of the group, team, or organization below and open the corresponding report.
The Office of Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living (OFSIL) received a report from the hazing.cornell.edu website on Oct. 23, 2015 regarding Kappa Sigma fraternity. The investigation determined that, at a date night event at the chapter, members provided alcohol to underage new members, with the implicit expectation that they would consume it as part of the process of joining the organization. In addition, it was discovered that throughout the new member period, all new members were required to carry with them at all times items that are irrelevant to the new member process (i.e., a lighter and rolling papers).
OFSIL staff determined that the activities constituted violations of the hazing policy. Staff met with the chapter president and new member educator as well as the regional representative of the fraternity to discuss the violations. Professional staff also met with the chapter members to review the organization’s new member program plan for the following semester. This violation was adjudicated through an informal resolution between professional staff and the chapter.
Throughout the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters, new members and non-senior members of the organization were subjected to systematic hazing activities, including, but not limited to actions such as requiring new members to: sit naked in an ice bath in a bathroom during an organization trip; apply Icy Hot to their genitals; and, race up and down a street and then consume foods. Additionally, the organization distributed and/or dispensed alcohol to underage members at multiple events over the course of the Fall 2015 and Spring 2016 semesters. While some members of the organization took positive steps to ameliorate some aspects of the hazing activities and reduce elements of hazing rituals in the Fall 2016 semester before the organization was temporarily suspended by the Office of the Judicial Administrator (OJA), there was no way to determine whether the new conditions instituted in Fall 2016 represented a significant change in culture, as the organization was temporarily suspended just two weeks into the semester. Through the investigation and adjudication process, the organization self-disclosed that hazing behaviors, including those more severe than listed above, had occurred for at least ten (10) years, which were outside of the time-frame jurisdiction of the Campus Code of Conduct (Code) [Code. Title Three Art. III, Sec. D.4. (Pg. 23, 2014)]. Moreover, the organization self-disclosed that the hazing, both within the time-frame jurisdiction of the Code and outside of the time-frame jurisdiction of the Code, included the involvement of alumni members of the organization returning to participate in the hazing of new members. After the organization was placed on temporary suspension in Fall 2016 during the investigation and attempted resolution phase, the organization exercised its right to have the entire matter heard by the University Hearing Board (UHB).
Decision of the UHB: The UHB found the organization responsible for the following Code violations:
Code. Title Three, Art. III, Sec. A.1.f. (Pg. 16, 2014): To haze another person, regardless of the person's consent to participate. Hazing means an act that, as an explicit or implicit condition for initiation to, admission into, affiliation with, or continued membership in a group or organization, (1) could be seen by a reasonable person as endangering the physical health of an individual or as causing mental distress to an individual through, for example, humiliating, intimidating, or demeaning treatment, (2) destroys or removes public or private property, (3) involves the consumption of alcohol or drugs, or the consumption of other substances to excess, or (4) violates any University policy.
Code. Title Three, Art. II, Sec. A.1.f.1.l (Pg. 17, 2014): To prevent a person from leaving a location (including part of the location, such as one part of a room) or to force a person to go to a location against his or her will. This is a violation whether accomplished through physical or psychological means. 1
Code. Title Three, Art. II, Sec. A.1.f.3.b (Pg. 18, 2014): To unlawfully manufacture, distribute, dispense, possess, use, or sell alcohol. This includes, for example, providing alcohol to an individual who is under the age of 21, selling alcohol without a license, consuming alcohol while under the age of 21 or possessing alcohol with the intent to consume it while under the age of 21.
As a result of a finding of responsibility, the UHB levied a list of sanctions against the organization and lifted the temporary suspension. Members of the group immediately began to take actions in compliance with the sanctions.
Decision of the University Review Board (URB): After the decision of the UHB, both the organization and Office of the Judicial Administrator (OJA) exercised their rights to appeal the decision of the UHB to the URB. The basis for the OJA appeal was that the sanctions administered by the UHB were not commensurate with the violations for which the organization was found responsible. The URB agreed. The URB altered and modified the sanctions of the UHB, and permanently dismissed the organization based on a determination that the core charge of hazing was sufficiently met to warrant dismissal, even if certain arguments by the organization on appeal were credited. The dismissal took effect immediately.
Decision of the University President: After the decision of the URB, the organization exercised its right to appeal the decision of the URB to the University President; this level of appeal was available because the Code charges involved acts or threats of violence. [Code. Title Three, Art. III, Sec. F.2. (Pg. 32, 2014)]. The University President upheld the decision of the URB to permanently dismiss the organization, stating that:
I agree with the UHB that the hazing violations in this case are "extremely serious," "dangerous and humiliating," and evidence of the organization "failing to meet the most minimum standards that we hold as a university community for relationships among students." This behavior has no place at Cornell, and I agree with the URB that dismissal of the organization is appropriate.
Additionally, seven upper-level students were referred to the OJA for individual violations under the Code related to actions completed while a member of the organization. Those matters have been resolved.
The Office of Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living (OFSIL) received a report from the hazing.cornell.edu website on Feb. 24, 2016 regarding Delta Chi fraternity. The ensuing investigation determined new members were required to take a bus trip to New York. The new members were not accompanied by chapter members. In addition, 1) they were given only a few days advance notice, 2) were required to Ithaca at an unreasonably early hour (i.e., 5:00 a.m. departure), and were expected to incur the initial cost of the transportation while waiting for reimbursement. This activity was overly burdensome and undermined the new members’ well-being.
OFSIL staff determined that these requirements constituted a violation of the hazing policy. Staff communicated with the chapter leadership, alumni, and international organization that such a trip should not happen in the future. This violation was adjudicated through an informal resolution between professional staff and the chapter.
The Office of Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living (OFSIL) received a report on 2/28/16 (initiation day) from the hazing.cornell.edu website regarding Phi Delta Theta fraternity. The investigation determined that as the culmination of the new member process, new members were required to extinguish a fire in the ground floor fireplace by spitting out water they had carried in their mouths from the third floor. This activity was demeaning and posed a risk of physical harm.
The Greek Judicial Board found the chapter responsible for hazing and imposed the following sanctions:
- The chapter was required to complete an anti-hazing program approved by OFSIL.
- The chapter was required to participate in a session with an OFSIL-approved facilitator to develop non-hazing new member activities.
The Office of Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living (OFSIL) received a report from the Cornell University Police Department regarding an incident on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Two Phi Gamma Delta fraternity new members were treated by emergency medical personnel for severe alcohol intoxication. During a fraternity party. Approximately eight new members were served alcohol at the event, including one who consumed six shots of hard alcohol in a short amount of time. The fraternity president reported to police that he had not registered the event due to lack of time.
The chapter was placed on interim suspension, and the case was heard by the Greek Judicial Board. The chapter found responsible for: violating the hazing policy, having a common source and/or hard liquor, have alcohol present during the new member education process, or initiation, and providing alcohol to individuals less than 21 years old.
As a result of these violations, the chapter was required to:
- Complete an anti-hazing program and alcohol awareness program approved by OFSIL
- Pay a fine of $5 per member
- Receive a warning for serving alcohol to individuals under the age of 21.
The Office of Fraternities, Sororities, and Independent Living (OFSIL) received a report of hazing including a photo from Facebook on 2/22/16. The photo showed two members with their respective Big Brothers. The new members were wearing only underwear and their bodies has been drawn on with black markers. They appeared to be wet with sweat or water. The individuals in the photo were also standing next to cases of beer. Further investigation confirmed that the photo portrayed demeaning hazing of the new members.
The chapter was placed on interim suspension as a result of this incident. The university’s Fraternity & Sorority Review Board ruled that the chapter had violated the university’s Fraternity and Sorority Recognition Policy and consequently changed the chapter’s status from Full Recognition to Provisional Recognition for a period of no less than two-years to end May 5, 2018, with the following conditions.
The fraternity will:
- Complete every goal of the document Pi Kappa Phi submitted at the May 5, 2016 Review Board hearing.
- Place a live-in advisor in the facility prior to the start of classes Fall 2016. OFSIL staff will help identify an appropriate job description and will assist in the recruitment and training of the live-in advisor as resources permit.
- Create a chapter-wide recruitment plan that is alcohol-free and aligns with the values and expectations of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and the university. This plan will be provided to OFSIL staff for comment.
- Create and implement a plan of educating members and new members on the fraternity’s and Greek community’s values, expectations of membership, and accountability measures. This plan will be provided to OFSIL staff for comment.