UW-Madison fraternity terminated after hazing allegations

Documents reveal details of Chi Phi hazing allegations
Chi Phi Fraternity

UW-Madison terminated the Chi Phi fraternity chapter Wednesday after allegations of hazing.

In January, the dean of students received allegations that Chi Phi leaders and members hazed new members during an initiation weekend in December.

The frat was suspended while an investigation took place.

The investigation found that chapter leaders allowed and fostered a dangerous hazing environment. The chapter violated the terms of the university’s student organization alcohol policy by forcing underage new members to drink excessively.

“We found that members were forced to stay at the house for a certain amount of time. They were forced to wear hoods for certain parts of the ceremony. They were found to have food deprivation, were forced to eat things that weren’t palatable. They were also forced to consume alcohol and provided with marijuana,” Assistant Dean and Director of the Division of Student Life Eric Knueve said.

Knueve said all of the fraternity members and pledges were interviewed, some multiple times, as part of the investigation.

The university said the chapter also violated a provision against humiliating, degrading and sexualized conduct, regardless of whether a person was willing to participate.

The statement said, “Chapter members engaged in food deprivation, stints of hooded isolation and other acts that seriously threatened the health and safety of all of the new members and resulted in one student suffering a concussion.”
Knueve said one student was injured during the hazing incident. That student was taken to a hospital, treated and released.

Chi Phi is no longer recognized by the Interfraternity Council.

“The Interfraternity Council does not condone the actions of Chi Phi and supports the Committee on Student Organizations decision to terminate recognition of the organization,” said Conner Feldman, executive president of the council. “The circumstances involving Chi Phi fraternity are unjustifiable and inappropriate. Hazing is strictly prohibited at all times by any persons affiliated with or under the jurisdiction of the Interfraternity Council at UW-Madison.”

Chi Phi can appeal the decision.

Rachel Zajac is dating a member of the fraternity and tells News 3 Chi Phi has one of the best reputations on campus and she has “never felt safer” than she does with the men who are involved in the organization.

“In my opinion, the university took it as an opportunity to kind of take down a portion of Greek life, and they kind of just took that to their advantage, and now this is what we’re stuck with,” Zajac said.

Willa Shampo also spends time at the Chi Phi house and thinks what’s happening nationally affected the university’s decision to terminate the chapter.

The same day as Chi Phi was banned from UW’s campus, the University of South Carolina chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha was suspended after one of their members was found dead.

Fraternities at Penn State University, University of Houston and University of Oklahoma were also recently reprimanded for posting nude pictures of women on Facebook, hazing and racism.

“I think they were more strict than what they should have been, but that’s probably better than going too easy on them because otherwise it gives the university a bad name, and the university isn’t going to have that happen,” Shampo said. “Unfortunately, they had to give Chi Phi the bad name to save themselves.”

Zajac and Shampo say the allegations Chi Phi faces are not accurate.

Knueve said the university deemed the fraternity to be in violation of four codes of conduct, and it has been removed from the campus as a registered student organization.

He said they will be able to reapply to the university in four years, but there’s no guarantee they will be reinstated.

Federal law prohibits UW-Madison from discussing any disciplinary action taken against individual students.

The fraternity’s president declined to comment Wednesday afternoon.

Knueve said the fraternity was suspended by its national chapter in the mid-2000s for low membership numbers, but they returned to campus in 2010.