By: Maggie Seppi, Assistant News Editor
The UNF Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life suspended the UNF, or Zeta Zeta, chapter of the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity Feb. 11, citing allegations of university policy violations.
Laura Fox, the assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, sent an email to members of the Zeta Zeta chapter, Student Affairs, UPD, the Inter-Fraternity Council and Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity headquarters, detailing why the chapter is under indefinite suspension.
“Your new member program appears to be inconsistent with the values of both your organization and the University of North Florida,” Fox said to Zeta Zeta members in the email.
The office suspended the chapter from all activities, including but not limited to: intramural sports, Homecoming participation, associate member meetings, social functions and philanthropic events.
Following the suspension, Assistant Vice President of Public Relations Sharon Ashton released an updated statement regarding the incident Feb. 14.
“According to our review, earlier this month, a current member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity told a pledge to steal university property, and the pledge was then offered marijuana,” Ashton said in an email. “This is considered hazing, and the university has a no-tolerance policy for hazing.”
Ashton also provided the Spinnaker with a copy of the UPD police report about the incident.
According to the police report, AyoLane Halusky, coordinator of the UNF Eco Wildlife Sanctuary, notified fraternity and sorority life coordinator Matt Deeg, Fox and Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Lucy Croft of sheets of paper that were found in the sanctuary Jan. 31.
Deeg, Fox and Croft began an internal investigation, before turning the case over to UPD. Several reasons motivated the decision not to defer to UPD immediately.
If the nature of an allegation is not severe, it is not unusual for UNF Student Affairs to conduct the first investigation to determine if the information is even accurate, Ashton said in a follow-up email.
The Student Affairs investigation also determines if university policy has been violated.
“Once the information is verified, and if there appears to be any criminal activities, then it is turned over to the UPD for a separate investigation,” she said. “That’s what happened in this case.”
Through the internal investigation, they determined the incident involved the pledges of Pi Kappa Phi.
Deeg said the sheets of paper found in the wildlife sanctuary said Pi Kappa Phi on them, and on the back of one of them was the proposal to steal a banner from Harmon Stadium.
“We verified with the place [the banner] was supposed to be taken from that it was missing,” he said. “We’re not sure if it was stolen, but it’s since been returned.”
The investigation continued by meeting with the pledges and asking them about their pledging experience.
“[The meeting] revealed that yes, the sheets did belong to one of them, and that was pretty much it,” Deeg said.
Halusky and Croft declined to comment further.
The investigation was then turned over to UPD Feb. 13.
Pi Kappa Phi headquarters issued a news release Feb. 13, which referenced possible punishments for the individuals involved.
“Should the Zeta Zeta Chapter be responsible for violations of the fraternity’s standards of conduct at the conclusion of investigation, the chapter and individuals will be held accountable through our conduct process,” the news release said.
Ashton said punishments for the involved students have not yet been finalized because they will depend on what UPD discovers through its investigation and the final results of UNF Student Affairs’ investigation.
Hazing has been a recent topic of discussion as two Florida universities, Florida A&M University and the University of Florida, have both encountered such incidents.
In a highly publicized incident, FAMU drum major Robert Champion died in late November 2011 as a result of hazing. It was later discovered fellow band members had beaten him moments before he passed out, a beating that resulted in his death.
Earlier this month, the University of Florida’s Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity chapter was also suspended after it was found the fraternity had been involved in an off-campus hazing event.
Details of the incident weren’t released, but UF officials said it involved visible injuries, according to a CNN article.
Pi Kappa Phi’s Zeta Zeta chapter had a previous incident in 2010. Jacob Victor, a Zeta Zeta member, dumped copies of the Spinnaker in a campus retention pond because a fellow member, Eric Pond, was referenced in a Police Beat incident summary.
Pi Kappa Phi’s Chief Operating Officer Christian Wiggins compared the two incidents, noting the importance of refraining from releasing information while the investigation is ongoing.
“It’s important not to release information because there are individual students involved, and not doing so helps guarantee no one presumes who did or did not participate,” Wiggins said. “Also, it helps to determine the responsibility, or not, of the chapter compared to the responsibility of the individuals involved.”
Wiggins said the previous incident was more an individual behavior than a chapter behavior.
The Spinnaker contacted several Pi Kappa Phi brothers, but all declined to comment on the incident.
Email Maggie Seppi at [email protected]