The Delta Tau Delta Epsilon Zeta chapter will serve a one-year suspension for multiple hazing violations after an investigation of hazing activities was completed in October, according to documents obtained by The Houstonian.
The acts occurred during the spring 2014 semester.
Evidence used against the chapter included a picture of members paddling each other, pictures and video of members doing pushups in a house, video of the new member class singing a song and a picture of a human triangle involving members.
The dean of students’ initial report cited another hazing incident committed by the fraternity in spring 2013. However, Dean of Students John Yarabeck could not confirm whether or not the 2013 incident was taken into account alongside the 2014 incidents which resulted in the suspension.
“If you were given information about both you could assume that one could lead to another,” Yarabeck said.
Delta Tau Delta appealed the verdict which was originally a three-year suspension given by the dean of the students office. Frank Parker, vice president for student services, denied the appeal but reduced the sanctions to a one-year suspension with probation extending to fall 2016, according to the appeal ruling.
During the duration of the suspension, Delta Tau Delta will remain inactive and is prohibited from using SHSU facilities for fraternal purposes, sponsoring activities and participating in campus affairs.
Parker was not available by press time to comment on the reduced suspension.
Any further hazing violations committed by Delta Tau Delta “will result in an automatic three-year suspension.”
Delta Tau Delta’s Appeal
Delta Tau Delta criticized the dean of students office investigation in their appeal. Specifically, Delta Tau Delta cited the code of student conduct and discipline to argue their right to question witnesses.
According to the appeal, the fraternity was prohibited from questioning an anonymous witness during the judicial procedure.
“This most fundamental principle was fatally flawed in this hearing and caused an adverse decision to be rendered against the chapter,” the appeal stated. “When asked why the individual was immune from questioning by the chapter, the Dean of Students Office simply responded by saying, ‘they wish to remain anonymous…’such an imbalance of fundamental rights should not exist.”
Delta Tau Delta also contested the dean of students ruling to bypass the Student Organizations Board when determining the “validity of the complaint.”
The Student Organizations Policy states a complaint can be filed by any member of the university through the coordinator of organizations, the dean of students or the vice president of student services. The policy also states the dean of students can hear the case or refer it to the coordinator of organizations which would then determine the “validity of the complaint by a two-thirds vote” from the Student Organizations Board.
Yarabeck chose to hear the case, thus ridding the necessity of the Student Organization Board in this case.
Yarabeck said the policy was vague which led to Delta Tau Delta’s confusion during the judicial process.
“It wasn’t that anything was mishandled because of the leeway, but we didn’t feel it was clear enough,” Yarabeck said. “If we didn’t do what we were supposed to do in due process it would have been a due process violation. Because there wasn’t really any stipulations for what transpired as you read we decided to go back and make it clear for the future.”
The dean of students’ office released a revised version of the Student Organization Policy which allows organizations to review the evidence against them and the opportunity to provide additional evidence. A meeting is permitted to review the evidence with the organizations, and if the dean of students finds violations to the Student Organization Policy or the Student Guidelines, sanctions are permitted.
Delta Tau Delta implemented a series of self-imposed sanctions for the fall 2014 semester which includes suspension of membership intake, sponsoring campus activities and participation in university events.
Within the sanctions Delta Tau Delta adopted the installation of an Alumni Supervisor Committee (ASC) for use “when conditions exist which might threaten the future viability of the chapter.”
The ASC, if adopted, will remain in effect until January 2016 at the Arch Chapter meeting to determine further use of the committee. Delta Tau Delta detailed a list of 12 SHSU alumni who have been requested to serve on the ASC, according to documents obtained by The Houstonian.
Once adopted the ASC will conduct a full Membership Review to “help get to the bottom of any unacceptable behavior.”
“My real hope is that other groups will learn from this and realize that hazing has no place in higher education,” Yarabeck said. “That’s our aim with these groups. We don’t want to kick them out. We don’t want them to lose their recognition or even have charters pulled in extreme cases. All of that has happened before. We don’t want that.”
Epsilon Zeta chapter President Hunter McKee declined to comment. Delta Tau Delta’s national affiliation was unavailable for comment by press time.