Delta Sigma Phi under investigation for hazing

The Alpha Mu Chapter of Delta Sigma Phi at the University currently is being investigated for allegations of hazing, according to officials at the University and the fraternity's national headquarters.

As of this week, the fraternity has been placed on "immediate temporary probation" by Delta Sigma Phi national headquarters. All chapter activities must cease immediately, and only can resume pending the outcome of an investigation beginning today.

Aaron Laushway, associate dean of students and director of fraternity and sorority life, said he was made aware of the hazing allegations Oct. 28.

Laushway said he subsequently began his own investigation of possible hazing at the fraternity, adding that he wants to conclude his investigation as soon as possible. He declined to speculate on possible punitive measures that would be taken against the fraternity if the violations prove valid.

Bruce Hammond, director of communications for the Delta Sigma Phi national headquarters, said the length of the national organization's investigation has not been determined. Hammond said he also would not speculate on possible disciplinary action that would be taken if the allegations are found to be true.

"We don't condone hazing," Hammond said. "We don't condone hazing of any type, but these are just allegations. Nothing has been proven yet."

Delta Sigma Phi Chapter President Russell Prestipino said he was unable to comment on the allegations and directed all questions to the national office.

The hazing allegations are the most serious in a recent string of violations and potential violations by the fraternity, according to Inter-Fraternity Council President Ryan Ewalt.

He said the fraternity also has been found guilty of a dirty rush violation stemming from a Friday night date function this semester. The case was filed and adjudicated by the IFC within 72 hours.

Ewalt said another alcohol-related violation resulting from the same party also will be filed with the IFC.

University Judiciary Committee Chair Alexis Gregorian said she could neither confirm nor deny hazing charges had been filed with the Committee because, if filed, cases are confidential.

A person found guilty of hazing charges could face any of a range of sanctions available to UJC, including expulsion, Gregorian said.

Virginia Law stipulates: "It shall be unlawful to haze, or otherwise mistreat so as to cause bodily injury, any student at any school, college, or university."

Under Virginia statute, hazing is a Class 1 misdemeanor, unless the injury inflicted constitutes a felony. In a case of such maliciousness, the alleged crime would be prosecuted as a felony offense.

Laushway said it is premature to discuss how the University would respond if criminal charges were brought and said he was not aware if any charges had been filed yet.

Ewalt said the IFC has taken a firm stance against hazing.

"The IFC strongly condemns hazing and we will take swift and appropriate steps against hazing once it's brought to light and encourage any effort to do so," he said.

Published November 5, 2003 in News

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