Tau Kappa Epsilon officially unrecognized
Brittny Mejia/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon pose outside of their house on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. The fraternity is now not recognized by UA administration.
Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity plans to appeal their loss of recognition from the university following an investigation of several alleged violations of the Code of Conduct, which some attribute to the complaints of a disgruntled former member.
On Tuesday, the Dean of Students Office ceased recognition of the chapter, following investigations centered on the fraternity’s new member education process, according to Keith Humphrey, dean of students and assistant vice president of Student Affairs.
The fraternity had been under investigation since the start of the fall semester after complaints were filed with Humphrey’s office. The chapter was forced to limit all activities, which prevented them from participating in recruitment, according to a UA statement.
When members first learned of the investigation, they said they were disappointed as they were busy planning for a new year and a new pledge class.
“We invested a lot of time into getting this new house and fixing it up and painting it,” said Billy Dimitri, a civil engineering senior and president of TKE. “Now it’s just a morale killer to not be able to participate in rush, and now be kicked off.”
Investigations involved actions related to forced consumption of alcohol, forced physical activity, physical exertion, sleep deprivation and other conduct that does not promote a safe environment, according to Humphrey.
The investigation involved chapter members, both current and former, and individuals that have reported violations to alumni advisers of the chapter, in order to give as complete a picture as possible, Humphrey added.
However, some fraternity members attribute the charges of hazing to a disgruntled former member, who they refused to identify.
“There’s no real evidence behind what’s been said … only a disgruntled member who was kicked out,” said Shane Sprague, a sophomore studying psychology and pre-business and the social chair of TKE. “There were problems with money … that might have been what really led him to say a lot of the things he might have said.”
Dimitri stated the allegations were false, as far as he knew, and that the fraternity was planning to appeal the university’s decision. He explained that fraternity members felt they were treated unfairly in the process.
“The first notice that there was even an investigation was when I received notice that we weren’t allowed to rush,” Dimitri said. “We were basically guilty until proven innocent.”
The chapter will have 20 days to appeal the loss of recognition if they so choose, according to the UA statement. If they do not, or if the appeal fails, the chapter will have the option to return after five years.
Humphrey added that while chapter revocation is typically a last resort, the university will do what is necessary to ensure the safety of all students.
“We always look at, ‘Is there a way for us to try to preserve the organization?’ but sometimes we do have to come to this conclusion that the safest thing is to close the organization,” Humphrey said.
Although some advisers commented on the sadness of losing a fraternity, they also cited the example this sets for other chapters to follow.
“If there’s anything to take away from this, it’s that hazing doesn’t build better members,” said Johanne Ives, assistant dean of students and director for Fraternity and Sorority Programs. “It doesn’t add value to the community or chapter, and I hope other fraternities and sororities can learn from the mistakes of Tau Kappa Epsilon.”
Despite the fact that the university has finished their investigation, TKE will continue to look into these allegations in order to ascertain which parties should be taken out of the organization, according to Tom McAninch, the director of communications and public relations at TKE.
If the council finds individuals who have instigated the issues, they will be removed from the fraternity, McAninch said. Those members who may not have anything to do with what was alleged will be made alumni members of the organization, he added.
“Hazing has absolutely no part of anything our founders stood for,” McAninch said. “If the allegations that have been made are true, it’s definitely a sad day in TKE.”