2016-17 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.
No groups, teams, or organizations were found in violation during this semester.
The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life (OSFL) received a report of hazing at Alpha Xi Delta. The investigation determined that:
- During the new member period, older members provided excessive amounts of alcohol to underage new members at a private residence. As a result, one new member was transported to the local hospital for alcohol poisoning.
- An event took place called "progressive dinner." It was reported that the progressive dinner “felt like hazing,” and that it was neither a dinner nor progressive. New members were expected to go to the off-campus residences of members where they were pressured to drink, do keg stands, and engage in demeaning activities like a variation on the game “pin the tail on the donkey,” in which members were blindfolded and had to kiss, as close to his crotch as possible, a poster of a man who was wearing only his underwear.
- Members used hard alcohol and illegal drugs at multiple social events after the new member period concluded. Older members pressured newer members to drink. Chapter executive board members failed to address this conduct.
The university’s Sorority & Fraternity Review Board found the chapter responsible for hazing, placed the chapter on Probationary Recognition for a period of three (3) calendar years, and required the following:
- The chapter must secure an advisor.
- The chapter will host no events with alcohol on or off campus throughout the fall semester (end date: December 14, 2017).
- Following completion of hazing prevention requirements stipulated in a letter from the organization’s national office, the chapter will consult with an OSFL-approved outside party who is not a member of Alpha Xi Delta to review the chapter’s responses to these requirements.
- The chapter will create a new social media policy and share it with an OSFL designee by September 1, 2017.
- The chapter will show the OSFL designee the event management plan they create as a result of the national organization requirement by October 1, 2017.
- A third party will conduct a review of the current chapter executive board to evaluate their fitness for continuing to lead the chapter.
- The chapter leadership will have meetings every two weeks with an OSFL staff member to keep OSFL apprised of their progress in the fall 2017 semester.
- The chapter will work with Cornell Health to host an educational program regarding alcohol and other drug use and addiction before December 1, 2017. This is in addition to the programs required by the national organization.
- The chapter will have no less than three members participate in the Cornell Outdoor Education Greek Leadership Academy class in fall 2017 at the chapter’s cost. It is recommended that the participants hold chapter leadership roles.
- The chapter will work with Cornell Outdoor Education to hold a team-building workshop by December 15, 2017 at its own cost.
- Signed expectations for membership agreements will be furnished to OSFL no later than September 15, 2017.
- The chapter will finalize their internal investigation and share the results with OSFL no later than September 15, 2017.
- The chapter will implement an Honor Board as per the new national organization policy in the fall 2017.
- The chapter will host no progressive dinners of any kind during the three year probationary period.
The Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life received a report regarding an incident with Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at their chapter house. As part of initiation, members required the new members to strip down to their underwear and then wear approved national ritual attire. Members blindfolded new members and led them to a room where they were asked uncomfortable personal questions.
Greek Judicial Board determined that the chapter had violated the hazing policy and applied the following sanctions:
- The chapter will participate in an anti-hazing educational program and an Intervene (bystander intervention) program.
- The chapter will have an advisor approved by its national organization present during the initiation process.
Lambda Chi members told the associate members to not eat any food on a certain day prior to coming to the chapter in the afternoon. Then, when the associate members arrived at the house, members required them to eat repulsive substances including worms and baby fish.
The university’s Sorority & Fraternity Review Board found the chapter responsible for hazing and placed the chapter on provisional recognition for a period of no less than three (3) years. In addition:
- The chapter will conduct a membership review and expel any members (current and associate) who are not willing or able to comply with the Review Board’s recommendations or the chapter’s own plan for improvement. It is strongly suggested that any members (current or associate) who do not positively contribute to the chapter’s health and well-being be removed. The result of the review should be supplied to OSFL by May 26, 2017.
- The chapter will not initiate any associate members in the fall 2017 semester and must create a strong associate member plan for the future. They may take in associate members again in spring 2018. Furthermore, the chapter should consult with representatives from OSFL and Cornell Health, who should be involved in the development of its associate member plans.
- The chapter is to submit plans for how they will more effectively use and manage an internal judicial process by May 12, 2017.
- The job description for a live-in advisor must be provided to OSFL by May 12, 2017. Once hired, the chapter’s live-in advisor needs to meet with OSFL at the beginning of his tenure and monthly throughout the academic year.
- The chapter will create an educational program about hazing that will be presented to OSFL, Review Board members, and the Interfraternity Council’s Presidents’ Council at a time to be determined in the fall 2017 semester.
- Prior to hosting a social event, the chapter will resubmit a new security plan for registered events including how they will restrict access to areas other than the main floor.
- It was strongly suggested that the chapter by-laws be changed to allow only students with four semesters of experience and prior executive board experience to serve as chapter president in the next election cycle.
In response an official appeal, the period of Provisional Recognition was reduced from three years to one year. After one year of Provisional Recognition the chapter’s status will be revisited.
In the fall of 2017, the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life (OSFL) received a report of hazing by Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. that occurred in the spring semesters of 2016 and 2017. An investigation determined that non-Cornell members of the sorority, who were representatives of the national organization, had subjected Cornell student new members to mental and physical hazing. These actions included forced calisthenics, restriction of new members’ food and liquid intake, ridicule and other verbal abuse, and excessive memorization and recitation of information. New members were also required to 1) complete a written application that acknowledged that they would be subjected to emotional strain, 2) complete a medical examination, and 3) waive liability for the national organization in the event of the new member’s death.
The Fraternity and Sorority Review Board determined that the chapter was in violation of the University’s Fraternity and Sorority Recognition Policy – Section E. 17 (b.): Will not implement or tolerate hazing, as defined by the Campus Code of Conduct, in any form, at any time. As a result, University Recognition of Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was removed in January of 2018 for a minimum of five years. The national organization was notified that in order a future application to be considered, the sorority would need to demonstrate that significant change has occurred within the new member process.
The Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life (OSFL) received a report of hazing involving Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) fraternity. As part of a new member activity, two PIKE Big Brothers gave two new members a set of longitude/latitude coordinate codes. When the new members arrived at the location of the codes, they found a box containing alcohol and white powder that appeared to be an illegal drug (e.g., cocaine). It was later determined that the powdered substance was a combination of crushed legal drug (i.e., caffeine pills) and protein powder. The new members chose not to consume the alcohol or drug. The new members then were told by the Big Brothers to go to a campus parking lot where they were picked up and driven by two women to a Collegetown apartment. At the apartment, the new members were required to participate in a trivia game that involved alcohol. Following the game, the Big Brothers and new members consumed alcohol together.
The university’s Sorority & Fraternity Review Board determined that the chapter had engaged in hazing, placed it on Probationary Recognition for a period of one (1) calendar year, and also required the following:
- The chapter must fully adhere to the revised new member plan the chapter submitted. The chapter must communicate any changes to OSFL. Failure to adhere to every section of this plan may result in a future Review Board hearing.
- The chapter will host no social events with alcohol for the remainder of the spring 2017 semester (defined as through May 26, 2017).
An appeal to remove the chapter from Probationary Recognition status was denied, but social probation was amended to ending on May 12, 2017.
The Office of Sorority & Fraternity Life received an incident report regarding Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. An investigation determined that new members were blindfolded and led to a room where they were seated in a semi-circle and forced to play a name game. This activity lasted for multiple hours over two days. The "name game" consisted of having to memorize the personal information of the new members in the circle. If a new member provided the wrong information, members yelled at or mocked him, and the game had to restart from the beginning. Additionally, the members told the new members that there would be several more of these events and that each member of the house would be subject to further education.
The university’s Sorority & Fraternity Review Board found the chapter responsible for hazing and placed the organization on Provisional Recognition for one year. In addition, the Board required the chapter to comply with a detailed plan for improvement that the chapter submitted called the Sigma Phi Epsilon New York Beta Internal Analysis and Chapter Vision. Deviation from this plan, which includes steps such as hiring a live-in advisor and conducting a membership review, could result in another Review Board hearing.
Please note that an earlier version of this statement, posted in February 2018, mischaracterized the findings of the Review Board, including the role of the chapter, and lacked context for the sanctions imposed by the University.
In 2017 the University received three reports regarding misconduct by Interfraternity Council chapter Zeta Beta Tau. It was alleged that the fraternity encouraged an activity which encouraged new members to accumulate points by having sexual relationships with women. The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life conducted an investigation and the matter was referred to the Fraternity and Sorority Chapter Review Board. The chapter denied the allegations, however chapter leadership stated that if “something” happened then it must have occurred without the knowledge of the fraternity leadership and without fraternity sponsorship. The Fraternity and Sorority Chapter Review Board considered all the evidence presented, including two non-anonymous reports, and concluded it was “more likely than not” that the allegation — someone associated with the chapter encouraging new members to participate in the contest — occurred. However, the Review Board did not have evidence and therefore did not find that any individual associated with the chapter had in fact acted on such encouragement or that the contest had actually occurred.
The Review Board determined that the chapter was in violation of the University’s Fraternity and Sorority Recognition Policy – Section E. 17(b): Will not implement or tolerate hazing, as defined by the Campus Code of Conduct, in any form, at any time. The Board also found the chapter in violation of Cornell’s Fraternity and Sorority Expectations of Membership, section 11: The fraternity or sorority will not tolerate or condone any form of sexually abusive behavior on the part of its members, whether physical, mental, or emotional. This is to include any actions, which are demeaning to any person or persons including but not limited to sexual assault or verbal harassment.
The Review Board, pursuant to its charge, considered the current allegations (the contest), the chapter’s history of misconduct, the overall health of the organization, and the chapter’s ability to comply with University and Greek policies in determining whether there should be any change to the chapter’s recognition status with the University. The Review Board concluded that there was an important opportunity to employ substantial educational interventions to improve the chapter’s culture and recommended sanctions accordingly. As a result, Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity was placed on Probationary Recognition for a period of two years. In addition, the following was required:
- The chapter will conduct a full chapter brotherhood review as well as an external review conducted by their national organization. Both will be completed and results will be communicated to OSFL by March 31, 2018.
- The chapter will hire a live-in advisor who must be approved by the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life (OSFL). The advisor must be employed by the beginning of the fall 2018 semester, and will reside in the chapter through at least the remainder of the probationary period.
- The chapter will participate in Cornell’s bystander education program entitled Intervene before the end of the spring 2018 semester.
- The chapter will conduct a walkthrough of the facility by an OSFL-approved reviewer to gain a perspective of its appearance and the culture it may present to guests.
- The chapter will work with OSFL staff to identify campus or community resources such as the Women’s Resource Center, The Advocacy Center, or the equivalent to conduct ongoing education on sexual violence. At least one educational program will be held by April 1, 2018. OSFL staff must approve the program.
- The chapter must make the current members aware of their full judicial history as outlined in the Review Board documents by Feb. 1, 2018. This includes the outcome of the Review Board hearing. Confirmation of this notification must be presented to OSFL.
- The chapter will work with OSFL staff to determine an acceptable officer transition program by March 15, 2018.
- The chapter will have 75% participation in at least two events during Cornell’s Sexual Assault Awareness Week, April 15-20, 2018.
- The chapter must hold monthly meetings with OSFL staff throughout the spring 2018 semester to update OSFL on their progress. It is recommended a ZBT national staff member join each meeting via phone.