One allegation of hazing at Chi Phi was so traumatizing, it left some new members “so shaken up that they were crying,” records obtained by The Badger Herald show.
The ceremony in question, called “Eye of Chi Phi,” convinced pledges they would have to “stick their finger in [an] active member’s anus.” An active member stood before the pledges with his pants down as pledges were blindfolded. Active members then put the pledges’ fingers in a jar of Nutella, leading them to believe they would carry through with the sexual act.
Chi Phi’s actions were “egregious in nature” and caused “serious physical, psychological and emotional injuries,” the University of Wisconsin Committee on Student Organization wrote in its decision to terminate the chapter.
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Chi Phi’s Kappa chapter did not appeal UW Committee of Student Organizations’ decision to revoke the fraternity’s status as a registered student organization. The fraternity’s national organization has since suspended the chapter’s charter.
UW provided documents of its investigation through an open records request, which detailed and confirmed numerous allegations one pledge brought against the chapter.
The documents cited messages from a group text as evidence that an active member targeted the pledge who suffered a concussion during an initiation ritual involving a coffin.
“He is getting hazed so hard,” one active Chi Phi member wrote in a group text message to his fraternity brothers.
Another group text said, “Really I just want him to suffer.”
The pledge was laying inside the coffin when one active member stomped on the casket, subsequently breaking it and sending the pledge to the hospital with head injuries. The active member, who was drunk during the incident, would have had to take “great force to break the coffin,” the UW investigation found, citing national office members who saw the coffin.
It’s unclear which of the chapter’s active members sent the group texts, as UW redacted the senders of each text, citing federal privacy laws protecting students.
The coffin ritual goes back at least four years, and 17 pledges and 11 active members participated in this fall semester’s ritual, with the active members wearing masks, according to UW’s findings.
Prior to the coffin incident, new members were “hooded” for as long as eight hours.
The pledges were confined in the chapter house’s attic for part of the ceremony, the UW investigation found. In a group text, one member told others to “give them bins to poop and per [sic] in and they can’t leave the attic.”
Interviews with members revealed pledges were then forced to sleep in the “tight space” restricted behind orange fencing.
Pledges were given only bread and candy canes to eat during one night confined in the house. On other occasions they were forced to eat “unpalatable food at Gordon Commons,” such as cereal with hot spices.
In a group text, one member wrote, “I had to remake his Gordon’s surprise that ungrateful shit.”
The national Chi Phi fraternity said in a March 25 statement they “condemn hazing of any kind.” The organization added UW’s chapter’s incident “is not a component of our National Ritual, and the two should not be linked.”
“We support the University’s decision to suspend the Chapter and terminate its status as a recognized organization on campus,” the organization said in the statement.
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Two days later, Chi Phi’s national organization voted unanimously to suspend the chapter’s charter, effectively withdrawing national affiliation, according to an April 1 statement. The Kappa chapter is now in the process of removing the letters from its house.
The Kappa chapter has been sent a notice to appear before Court of Grand Council June 19, 2015 in San Francisco to review the suspension.
In an email interview with The Badger Herald, a UW sophomore and chapter member said the chapter is “seeking to find ways to make amends with the campus community.” The member spoke on condition of anonymity and noted he wasn’t in a leadership role when the incident occurred. He would only respond to emailed questions.
The member said “some of the allegations are exaggerated or untrue” but acknowledged “multiple University codes of conduct were broken.”
“The chapter is taking this as an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and become better men,” he said. “We are disappointed by the recent happenings, but we realize our wrong-doings and are prepared to handle the consequences in a positive and productive manner.”