2019-20 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 Sorority and Fraternity Life received a report on March 3, 2019 that hazing involving Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity occurred in the spring semester of 2019 and the fall semester of 2018. Following an investigation, the Fraternity and Sorority Chapter Review Board found that Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity members had engaged in hazing of new members in the spring of 2019 that included the following behaviors:
- New members, who had slept at the house the night prior, were awoken at 5:00 AM and made to listen to the same song on repeat for four hours. They were also required to play “air instruments,” and make repeated hand gestures.
- New members were required to live in the chapter house for a week.
- Cell-phones were taken away from new members at points during the new member process, sometimes for the entire weekend.
- Chapter leadership was aware the use of blindfolds was prohibited, however required new members to wear blindfolds as part of their national ritual.
A detailed above, the Fraternity and Sorority Chapter Review Board found the chapter responsible for hazing in violation of the Recognition Policy and the Expectations for Membership and therefore withdrawal of University Recognition was an appropriate sanction. However, taking into account the chapter’s lack of any recent judicial history, its cooperation with the investigation, assumption of responsibility for its actions, and its well-considered proposed solutions to alter the chapter’s culture, withdrawal of recognition was deferred until fall 2021. During this period of deferred withdrawal of recognition, Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity will be given the opportunity to demonstrate its ability to abide by University and Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life policies by completing a number of educational sanctions. The chapter was also been placed on probationary recognition status and prohibited from conducting a new member process in the fall of 2019. Failure to complete any of the educational sanctions and/or failure to comply with the terms of the probationary recognition will result in the automatic withdrawal of recognition for a period of no less than three (3) years. Additionally, consistent with established practice, this matter was referred to the Office of the Judicial Administrator (OJA) to pursue individual accountability for members associated with the organization under the Campus Code of Conduct.
The Office of the Judicial Administrator (OJA) received an incident report alleging hazing activities in the Fall 2018 semester by Cornell Mock Trial, a University-Registered Organization subject to jurisdiction under the Campus Code of Conduct (Code). An investigation by the OJA identified two events during the Fall 2018 semester which presented violations of Code: the audition process and an event called the Gauntlet. Confirmed behaviors within these events included:
- Auditions: Auditioning students were constantly interrupted and/or asked to do things outside the scope of the materials provided, such as being instructed to pretend a current member in the judging panel was their girlfriend/boyfriend and having to flirt with or try to win them back because they had broken up. At the end of the first audition, students were instructed to complete between 10-15 LSAT questions in a 15-minute timeframe, unrelated to the purpose of the organization. During a fake third “audition,” unaware that they had already been selected as members of the organization, new members were asked to line up in a darkened auditorium, with a spotlight on them, and were then instructed to recite (one word at a time) the speech they were asked to memorize for the first audition.
- Gauntlet: As part of the traditions of Cornell Mock Trial, members were divided into three teams and had to compete against each other by consuming a 30 rack of beer, 1/5 handle of liquor, 1 sheet pizza, and a mystery condiment (e.g., Nutella, chocolate syrup, frosting). While the was no time limit to finish the above items, the team had to complete a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle within two hours. Students who declined to consume alcohol were given soda as a substitute, and at least one member confirmed that marijuana was at this event.
After being placed on temporary suspension when the Fall 2019 semester began, the organization exercised its right to a petition a University Hearing Board (UHB) to review the imposed temporary suspension. The UHB upheld the temporary suspension. Pursuant to a Summary Decision Agreement (SDA) reached by agreement between Cornell Mock Trial and the University in lieu of proceeding to a hearing, a resolution of Responsible was entered for the following prohibited conduct as set forth in the Code:
f. 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.
3.b. 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.
3.d. To unlawfully manufacture, distribute, dispense, possess, use, or sell marijuana or any controlled substances as defined by state or federal law.
The organization was suspended from the University for the fall 2019 semester; received a Written Reprimand; agreed to complete an Audition Protocol as part of its Suspension Reintegration; and, will be required to complete the following educational steps: a Goals and Challenges Project, an Ethical Leadership Development workshop, Bystander Intervention training for all members, a Promotion of Heathy Group cohesion project, and develop a Transitions Guide.
Additionally, this matter was referred to the Office of the Judicial Administrator to pursue individual accountability for member(s).
The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life received a report that hazing involving Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. occurred in the spring semester of 2019. An investigation found that Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. members (including alumnae members) had engaged in hazing of new members that included the following behaviors:
- Learning sessions for the new members, which were called “sets,” were conducted in a manner that was intimidating to the new members. New members were both belittled and criticized during these sessions by alumnae and chapter members.
- New members had to use greetings when in the presence of alumnae and chapter members, such as “Most Honorable Pledge Mistress.” (OSFL policy defined greetings as: formalized and exaggerated ways in which current members are addressed (may include skits, songs, prose, etc.) that imply respect, admiration and/or appreciation).
- New members were responsible for memorizing a large quantity of information which then had to be recited to the chapter; a negative and stressful environment was created as a result.
- New members had strict dress requirements. They were instructed to wear precisely ironed dress shirts as well as matching clothing including having their hair in the same braided style. They received criticism if the appearance was not just right.
- The new members had a folder of material they were responsible for learning. They kept the folder with them during the process of joining.
- During learning sessions, new members had to stand next to each other for long periods of time and were not allowed to display gaps between them while they were standing.
The Fraternity and Sorority Chapter Review Board found the chapter responsible for hazing, and the University withdrew Recognition of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc., for a period of no less than one year. If Recognition is requested and approved pursuant to the applicable university policy or procedure in place at any point following the one-year period, the Chapter would remain on Probationary Recognition for a period of one calendar year. Such Probationary Recognition may include other specific limitations to the chapter’s recognition status as may be deemed appropriate at that time.
Additionally, consistent with established practice, this matter was referred to the Office of the Judicial Administrator (OJA) to pursue individual accountability for members associated with the organization under the Campus Code of Conduct.
The Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life received a report in spring 2019 that hazing involving Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity had occurred the prior year. An investigation found that Phi Sigma Kappa members had engaged in hazing as a part of the new member education program in spring and fall 2018, including the following behaviors:
- Blindfolding new members.
- A myth regarding a “secret room” that new members had to find. This was a planned failure activity as there was no secret room.
- Disproportionate cleaning and sober monitor responsibilities for new members.
- Taking away phones from potential new members for the duration of an entire weekend.
The chapter was found responsible for hazing and placed on probationary recognition for the entirety of the fall 2019 semester, including social probation for the fall 2019 semester. The chapter has previously been placed on two month interim suspension in the spring 2019.