Alpha Psi Lambda suspended for hazing
Northeastern Illinois University's chapter of Alpha Psi Lambda, a national co-ed Latino-oriented fraternity, was suspended this semester for hazing new pledges.
According to Sharron M. Evans, Director of Student Activities, two separate situations involving hazing were investigated and found to be true. These happened in late November and early December of last year. Evans declined to discuss the details of the hazing incidents.
All forms of hazing are prohibited according to the NEIU Student Code of Conduct, and Evans said that there is absolutely no room for it.
"Typically, pretty drastic measures are taken as a result of it," said Evans.
In Alpha Psi Lambda's case, these drastic measures include suspension for the entirety of the spring semester, which means that all members, new and old, are currently inactive. According to Evans, in fall 2009 the five new members of Alpha Psi Lambda who were pledges at the time of the hazing will return to active status. The other members will remain inactive and in poor standing until fall 2010. In order to become active again they must complete a leadership development series with the Student Activities Office. These returning members will also be prohibited from holding an officer position during their remaining years at NEIU.
Another result of the suspension is that Alpha Psi Lambda has lost all of its funding. According to Evans, its earned income will be frozen until the five new members return in the fall. The award money the organization has earned through the L.E.A.D. , Leaders Emerging And Developing, program will be used to fund anti-hazing workshops for the entire Greek system.
Alpha Psi Lambda National, Inc. has also imposed some sanctions, such as a requirement that they must oversee the next membership intake process, according to Evans. However, Evans said that the disciplinary sanctions given by the national office were not as heavy as those given by NEIU.
Evans said there are many reasons why NEIU's sanctions and stipulations are more extensive than the national office's sanctions.
"Number one, what happened doesn't carry the spirit of student development and leadership," said Evans. She also said that hazing is a liability issue for the university.
"When you have formally recognized organizations on your campus that are hazing, there's a certain responsibility that the school could wind up finding themselves responsible for," said Evans. "That student's grades can drop. There could be emotional damage. Somebody could end up dead or hurt."
"The university does not have room to be open to that at all. It would not be considered an institution of higher education if it did."
Jonathan Barrera, one of the five members of Alpha Psi Lambda who will return to active status in the fall of 2009, said he has a lot of mixed emotions about the suspension.
"I felt that either the school could have taken a different approach on it or maybe become less aggressive toward the members that were not even involved."
However, he hopes that he and his line brothers and sisters can take the time during the suspension to improve their grades and focus on school.
"That way when we do come back in the fall semester we'll come back more positive, more prepared and educated on what to do and what not to do, learn from the mistakes that have been done throughout the fraternity and try to learn from that and make it a more positive image," said Barrera.
Barrera hopes that other organizations can learn from Alpha Psi Lambda's suspension as well and try not to make the same mistake.
Evans has used Alpha Psi Lambda's suspension as an opportunity to educate other Greek organizations on hazing. On Feb. 3, Evans met with all of the Greek organizations to provide clarity on the rumors surrounding the suspension and to give a presentation on hazing awareness.
"It was made very clear that if you didn't know, you know now that there is no tolerance for hazing," said Evans. "And if I find any situation of hazing with any organizations that takes place from this day forward, there is no negotiating the object of staying. You're revoked, and you're revoked permanently."
Alpha Psi Lambda National, Inc. is also using this suspension as an educational opportunity.
"This was an isolated incident that we as a fraternity take very seriously and are using as an example to educate our membership on hazing awareness," said Michelle Maday, National President of Alpha Psi Lambda, Inc.
This battle with hazing is not unique to NEIU, according to Evans.
"It occurs at all institutions that have undergraduate Greek organizations because there is a mentality out there that if you are not hazed or sent through some very difficult task than you're not real," said Evans.
"It's all a mentality and I'm very passionate about having to break that mentality."
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