A University of Kentucky fraternity has been suspended for five years because of alcohol and hazing violations that included forcing pledges to drink until they vomited, watch gay pornography and do calisthenics in pools of vomit.
In an April 22 letter to Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, Denise Simpson of the Office of Student Affairs said the fraternity had violated three sections of the student code of conduct regarding hazing, alcohol policy and drunken behavior.
Fraternity member R.J. Ariel accepted responsibility on behalf of Phi Kappa Psi for behavior that had gone on for several years, but particularly in fall 2015.
“You explained and confirmed that your fraternity has engaged in behaviors during new member education classes for a number of years that involved hazing practices,” Simpson wrote. “The hazing complaint received by the university for fall 2015 specifically included forced alcohol consumption to the point of vomiting (i.e. warm/skunked Colt 45 called “Ring of Fire,” and a mixture of beer, vodka and lime juice called “Riptide”), drunken behaviors, physical and mental stress (i.e. lineups in the basement of the fraternity that often involved yelling or verbal abuse; not allowed to sit on furniture, not allowed in certain rooms of the fraternity, calisthenics in/around vomit), and other activities that were meant to provide new members discomfort and embarrassment (i.e. forced to watch gay porn; not allowed access to residence room, to shower, or phones during initiation week). The chapter confirmed that all of the behaviors noted in the investigation report were true and did occur.”
Effective immediately, the fraternity is separated from UK until 2021, Simpson said, at which point it may apply to rejoin UK. As part of that process, fraternity officials will get a committee of alumni to oversee the chapter’s off-campus operations with a new code of conduct and a new pledging process.
Current members are required to remove all Phi Kappa Psi paraphernalia and move out of the fraternity’s house at 364 Aylesford Place by May 8. They may not meet as an organized student group.
Neither Ariel nor the national Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity returned calls for comment.
UK spokesman Jay Blanton said the punishment came after an extensive investigation of multiple reports of hazing.
“The university takes all forms of hazing seriously,” Blanton said in a statement. “Whether on or off university premises, any mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule is prohibited. Hazing of any form is an affront to who we are as members of this community. Such activities potentially endanger the health and safety of students and cannot be tolerated by the institution or our member organizations. When actions violate those values and our student code of conduct, as they so clearly did in this case, the university will move decisively based upon the facts.”
Read UK’s letter to the Phi Kappa Psi
April 22, 2016
Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity
Incident Report: 00875-001-2016
Thank you for meeting with me on April 20, 2016 11:00 AM to discuss your alleged violations of the Code of Student Conduct on during Fall semester of 2015 and Spring semester of 2016. Through our conversation and based on a review of the incident report, your organization has been found RESPONSIBLE for violating the following Code of Student Conduct policy(ies):
Code of Conduct/8R/8R — University Alcohol Policy — The University Alcohol Policy establishes the policies and procedures for using, serving, and selling alcoholic beverages. The University Alcohol Policy can be found at http://www.uky.edu/regs/files/ar/ar6-4.pdf.
Code of Conduct/8H — Hazing by any action taken or situation created, intentionally or recklessly, whether on or off University premises, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule.
Code of Conduct/8C — Disorderly, abusive, drunken, violent or excessively noisy behavior or expression.
Rationale: During our meeting, you accepted responsibility on behalf of your fraternity for violating Code of Conduct 8C, 8H, and 8R. You explained and confirmed that your fraternity has engaged in behaviors during new member education classes for a number of years that involved hazing practices. The hazing complaint received by the University for fall 2015 specifically included forced alcohol consumption to the point of vomiting (i.e. warm/skunked Colt 45 called “Ring of Fire,” and a mixture of beer, vodka and lime juice called “Riptide”), drunken behaviors, physical and mental stress (i.e. lineups in the basement of the fraternity that often involved yelling or verbal abuse; not allowed to sit on furniture, not allowed in certain rooms of the fraternity, calisthenics in/around vomit), and other activities that were meant to provide new members discomfort and embarrassment (i.e. forced to watch gay porn; not allowed access to residence room, to shower, or phones during initiation week). The Chapter confirmed that all of the behaviors noted in the investigation report were true and did occur. We discussed how these activities have influenced the chapter culture and occurred regardless of members’ willingness to participate, and, although you wanted to make efforts to change the behaviors, they have continued. We discussed the impact of these behaviors on both the chapter members’ safety and well being, and on the University’s ability to provide a safe and educational environment for all students. You acknowledged during our meeting your understanding of the need for the chapter to separate from the university community in order to stop the behaviors and restore the harm the behaviors caused to the members. After taking time to reflect and discuss the situation with your advisers, you accepted the restorative action plan via email.
Therefore, your organization’s Restorative Action Plan is as follows:
1. Disciplinary Suspension
Start Date: Thursday, April 21, 2016
Complete by: Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Effective immediately, Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity is separated from the University of Kentucky. Disciplinary suspension is exclusion from University premises, as well as participation in all rights, privileges, extracurricular institutional activities and statuses for which an organization might otherwise be eligible as a registered student organization for a stated period of time. Once the stated period of time has ended, your organization may participate in the redevelopment process as designed by the Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Office to receive registered student organization status. During suspension, if individual members attempt to continue to operate as a chapter of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity through other means (e.g., intramural teams, participating in campus events under the auspice of a new student organization, etc.), this behavior could further delay the organization’s return to campus. A violation of the terms of disciplinary suspension, or subsequent misconduct, is grounds for disciplinary expulsion.
2. Other Educational Action
During our meeting, we discussed a number of proactive strategies your chapter would employ in order to realign with both your fraternal standards and University expectations, and to change the overall culture of the chapter. During completion of the redevelopment process and return to campus, I encourage your organization to consider implementation of the strategies we discussed as they are outlined below:
1. Headquarters staff will conduct a review of local and engaged alumni and select a chapter operations supervisory committee of five local alumni to manage chapter operations and new member meetings.
2. Headquarters staff and a staff member from Fraternity and Sorority Affairs will conduct a membership review of each undergraduate member who will potentially return to the chapter prior to the start of the semester when the chapter will return to campus.
3. Headquarters staff and a staff member from Fraternity and Sorority Affairs will conduct a review of the chapter’s executive board to determine if each member is suitable to hold a position.
4. The undergraduate chapter, designated alumni, and headquarters staff will create a Code of Conduct that each member must agree to follow. It will state that each member must maintain above a 3.0 GPA or he will be put on academic probation. If he remains below a 3.0 GPA for two (2) consecutive semester then he will be removed from active membership in the chapter.
5. The alumni chapter operations supervisory committee alumni will host a Knowledge Transfer: Chapter Retreat/Workshop - New Plan & Requirements Open Discussion.
6. The President, Executive Board, and Chapter Advisers will be re-certified in Alcohol Edu, Bystander Intervention, and our best practices via the National CMEC on-line certification process.
7. The chapter’s new member process will be a strict adoption of the National 6 week new member educational process. All new member meetings will take place on campus with a certified Alumni Adviser present and a staff member from Fraternity and Sorority Affairs until the University believes the chapter is fit to run new member meetings on their own.
8. Each potential new member must have a minimum GPA that falls within the top 25 percent of the Fraternal Average GPA if they already attended one semester at the University or a 3.25 High School GPA if they are an incoming student. The new members must be able to show that they have prior leadership experience, either in high school or on campus.
9. On campus consulting and training will be provided by Launch Point Services to start at the beginning of campus wide rush during the semester when the chapter will return to campus.
10. Launch Point Services will provide a 2-day on-campus consultation with chapter leadership, general members, volunteers and alumni.
11. Launch Point Services will implement an online dashboard to create transparency for both the school and the headquarters staff regarding rush and the new member process.
12. Launch Point Services will provide 12 months of support regarding chapter operations provided for undergraduate members.
13. Five members of the chapter will forego their spring break and attend the American Leadership Academy where they will meet with some of our countries most successful business leaders and learn the value of service, citizenship, and the behaviors needed to become a better leader on campus.
14. Director of Standards and Senior Director of Chapter Operations will visit the chapter each semester during the first two semesters after the chapter returns to campus to ensure the chapter is working towards a correct and sustainable structure.
15. Kentucky Beta New Member Meetings will be held on campus at a time, date, and location approved by the University.
16. Kentucky Beta and Phi Kappa Psi headquarters staff will sponsor an IFC approved speaker and subject during the first two semesters after the chapter returns to campus to come to campus and present to the University Greek Community.
17. A Calendar of Events in line with our Phi Kappa Psi values and the University’s programming calendar will be designed and provided to the University so that we all see the change in culture and activities in advance.
18. All chapter meetings will be open to University Administration and be held on campus.
Regarding your off-campus house, your are required to remove all Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity letters, banners, paraphernalia and any other items that could identify the property as the chapter house immediately. All residents, with the exception of graduating seniors, are expected to vacate the off-campus house by 5:00pm on Saturday, May 7, 2016. Graduating senors must vacate the off-campus house by 5 p.m. Sunday, May 8, 2016. All residents will be required to complete the move out process with the House Director and House Corporation per normal end of the year move out procedures. The House Corporation board will also remove any items they provided to the house. You should provide a list of all students who reside in the house to Ms. Emily Perrin Britt at firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. Monday, April 25, 2016. You should also work with Emily and your House Corporation board to successfully execute moving out of the house. If any violation of the Code of Student Conduct including, but not limited to: damage, vandalism, or retaliation towards individuals is believed to have occurred during the move-out process, individual members may be charged with a potential violation and participate in the student conduct process as outlined in the Code.
Noncompliance with this Restorative Action Plan by the assigned deadlines will result in your organization facing further disciplinary action, including, but not limited to extended disciplinary suspension or disciplinary expulsion from the University.
Follow the link below and take a few minutes to complete the post-meeting survey. Your answers will help the Office of Student Conduct improve the student conduct process. Thank you for your participation.
If you have any questions about this letter or the Code of Student Conduct, please visit the Office of Student Conduct’s website at www.uky.edu/studentconduct or make an appointment to meet with me.
Dr. Denise Simpson
Director, Office of Student Conduct
CC: Mr. Jim Wims, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Interim Dean of Students
Mr. Nick Kehrwald, Associate Dean of Students
Ms. Susan West, Director for Fraternity and Sorority Affairs
Mr. John Shumaker, Chapter Advisor
Mr. James D’Imperio, Director of Standards
Mr. Michael Morin, Director of Chapter Services
Mr. Ron Ransom, Senior Director of Chapter Operations