Two Fraternities Expelled

by Staff

By Crystal FambriniAssistant City Editor

Two campus fraternities — Beta Theta Pi and Tau Kappa Epsilon –have been expelled from campus because of hazing.

Vice President for Student Affairs Jim Kitchen publicly announcedhis decision yesterday. It was the most serious consequence he coulddole out.

The fraternities will no longer be associated with San Diego StateUniversity. Beta Theta Pi will not be considered for re-colonizationuntil the 2005-06 academic year and TKE will not be considered until2003-04.

Kitchen said SDSU is liable for hazing, and yesterday’s decisionwill free the university from responsibility for the twofraternities’ actions.

“It was not an easy decision to make,” Kitchen said. “But lookingat the history, I was seeing violation after violation afterviolation. Obviously, somebody is not getting a clear message that(hazing) is unlawful. And anytime a person’s life is in risk itconcerns me.

“Hazing puts peoples lives at risk and if this is what brotherhoodis really all about then we have got to start questioning why we arejoining fraternities.”

Being expelled by the university means the fraternities may nolonger hold seats on the Interfraternity Council, recruit pledges oncampus or advertise on campus. But if they still have the support oftheir national chapters, they can continue to operate, recruitmembers and remain in their chapter houses. It is now up to thenational chapters to decide if they want to continue supporting them.

The Beta Theta Pi hazing incident occurred Sept. 30 at the chapterhouse, located at 5074 College Ave. involving four 18-year-oldpledges who were coerced into drinking alcohol. One pledge was takento Alvarado Hospital and treated for alcohol poisoning.

The TKE incident occurred Oct. 17 and involved three 18-year-oldpledges who were coerced into drinking — landing a second pledge inAlvarado Hospital with alcohol poisoning.

In both instances, members were coerced into drinking by officersof the fraternity, Kitchen said, not just active members. The factthat the officers committed the hazing violations is inexcusable, hesaid.

Beta Theta Pi president Matt Sheehy said he assumed the role ofpresidency after the fraternity decided to remove the two individualsinvolved in the hazing incident — the former president and riskmanager — from its chapter.

“We thought that would be enough but the university feltotherwise,” he said. “The fraternity is off campus so we are prettymuch done.”

Kitchen said he wants to get the message out to the greekcommunity that he is pro-greek but he is also anti-hazing. Kitchen isan Alpha Phi Alpha alumnus.

“I am so pro-greek that it is not even funny,” he said. “I reallybelieve in the greek community and I think they are as important toour campus as athletics is because it brings a certain amount ofleadership to the campus.”

Africana Studies professor Ted Kornweibel said he is “enormouslygratified” with Kitchen’s decision. Kornweibel’s son was one of theTKE pledges that was hazed on Oct. 17. His son nearly died with ablood alcohol level of .31 after a custodian found him unconscious,lying in a pool of vomit in Aztec Center.

Kornweibel said his son and two other TKE pledges were summoned tothe chapter secretary’s Piedra Del Sol apartment, on Hardy Avenue,for a test of the greek alphabet and fraternity history.

“Every time they gave a wrong answer,” Kornweibel said. “They hadto drink and at some point my son had far too much in him and hepleaded ‘can I do push-ups instead?’ And they said ‘no, you have gotto keep drinking.”

Kornweibel said his son had two beers and then drank unmeasurableamounts of a punch made with rum, tequila and vodka. After about twohours of continual “testing,” he said the pledges were ordered towalk back to their residence halls.

“To me this is what you call reckless endangerment,” he said. “Youget somebody in a dangerous situation and then you abandon them. Whatif he went unconscious in the bushes someplace and the janitor hadn’tseen him?”

He said his son is still attending SDSU, but is no longer stayingin his residence hall because of repeated harassing phone calls andverbal threats.

“That is very cowardly because it is not my son who has pursuedthis issue and made this public,” he said. “That’s my doing and ifanybody has a complaint, bring it to me. My son does not deserve anyharassment. I am taking up his cause, the cause of all parents and ofall kids in of this situation.”

Criminal charges have been filed with the City Attorney’s officein both cases for review and possible prosecution. The SDSU Office ofJudicial Procedures is also reviewing the incidents and fraternitymembers face expulsion.

Kornweibel said he will continue to pursue the TKE incident andalcohol abuse campuswide and that he has not ruled out thepossibility of a lawsuit.

“This is gratifying to me,” he said. “I don’t feel vindictive,this is pure justice.”

Kornweibel said he came in contact with TKE’s president two timesand in either case no apologies were made.

“That grieves me that people do not have any decency to say’sorry,'” he said. “It wouldn’t have to be anymore than that, justsome recognition.”

TKE president Mike Lucente said he was surprised by the decision,and that it is unfair the fraternity is being punished as a result ofindividual members’ actions. He said he feels the university hasturned its back on TKE.

“(The university) is trying to make an example out of us,” hesaid. “I believe that 100 percent. We are pretty much scapegoats. Ifthis wasn’t such a public thing we wouldn’t have gotten the samepunishment.”

Lucente said the national chapter told him yesterday that theywill “stick by” the San Diego chapter and continue to recognize thefraternity.

“We are not a part of the university,” he said, “(but) we canstill have pledges, we can still act as a fraternity, we can still doeverything we have been doing.”

However, Sheehy said the Beta Theta Pi national chapter has alwayssaid if the university did not recognize the chapter, then they wouldnot either. Beta Theta Pi’s house is privately owned by a fraternityalumnus who told fraternity members yesterday that he will continueto let the members live there.

Lucente said he is not worried about a lawsuit or possibly beingheld accountable for the hazing incident.

Anthony Ciccati, Interfraternity Council president, said he feelsfraternity presidents should not be held responsible for othermember’s actions.

“Being a past president it’s really hard to control what’s goingon in your house,” he said. “When you have 60 members who don’t alllive in the same house but elsewhere in the community it’s hard. Youcan only hope they are going to be well-rounded individuals thatwon’t break the rules.”

Kornweibel said he disagrees.

“The university hazing policies clearly state that the chapterpresident is responsible for educating his members and ultimatelyresponsible for the behavior of its members,” Kornweibel said.

Ciccati said he was at first shocked with Kitchen’s decision. Heknew the fraternities were going to suffer consequences, he said, butnot so severe. But Ciccati said he remains optimistic.

“Like everything else we can try to turn this around and make it apositive,” he said. “We can build off this and educate people so thistype of thing doesn’t happen again.”

Other fraternities are also feeling the heat. Doug Case,coordinator of SDSU fraternity and sorority life, said Sigma Chi andKappa Sigma fraternities are on social probation this semesterbecause of incidents involving alcohol violations.

Three more fraternities will soon be facing the hot seat as wellfor alleged drinking violations at their chapter houses involvingminors, Case said. One of those cases resulted in a third SDSUstudent being hospitalized.

What happened: Beta Theta Pi and T
au Kappa Epsilon expelled from SDSU What happens now: Both will lose all rights and privileges as student organizations and will no longer be recognized by the university. Trouble with the law: City Attorney’s office is considering filing criminal charges against two former fraternity officers. SDSU Office of Judicial Procedures is also reviewing the case. Comeback timeline: Beta Theta Pi will not be able to apply for recognition by the university until at least 2005-06. TKE will not be recognized until at least 2003-04. Who decided: Jim Kitchen, vice president for Student Affairs. He collaborated with the Interfraternity Council Judicial Board, conducted his own investigation and met with SDSU President Stephen Weber. Timeline of fraternity hazing Fall 1998 Beta Theta Pi is suspended for hazing incidents. Sept.. 30, 2000 Four 18-year-old Beta Theta Pi pledges were coerced into drinking alcohol by one or more fraternity members. One was taken to the hospital and treated for alcohol poisoning and a gash on his chin. Oct. 17, 2000 Three 18-year-old Tau Kappa Epsilon pledges were provided alcohol and coerced into drinking by an active member of the fraternity. One of the pledges was taken by an active member of the fraternity to Alvarado Hospital. His blood alcohol content was .31. Oct. 25, 2000 Both TKE and Beta Theta Pi are placed on suspension while investigations continue. Dec. 4, 2000 Decision is announced to expel TKE and Beta Theta Pi from San Diego State University. Look for an article on new fraternity allegations in Thursday’sissue.