Cal Poly bans another fraternity for hazing — this time for alcohol and forced push ups

Cal Poly has barred another local fraternity chapter from campus after an investigation revealed students were forced to drink alcohol and do push ups.

According to Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier, the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity lost its affiliation with the university this week after an investigation determined the local chapter had violated the university’s student code of conduct and state law “over the last several years.”

The chapter has been ordered to cease all operations immediately.

“The university takes very seriously every report we receive of hazing, in any student club or organization on campus, and we deal appropriately with each report that is substantiated,” Dean of Students Kathleen McMahon told The Tribune in an email statement. “We encourage our students to report such activity whenever they see it. Unfortunately, we know hazing occurs on many college campuses, and we are not immune to that. Receiving these reports gives us an opportunity to intervene, correct dangerous behaviors and keep students safe. We are working hard to change the culture.”

Mustang News first reported the disaffiliation Tuesday morning.

Lazier said the investigation found underage pledges were required to drink alcohol and do push ups during the pledging process. The group also used chapter funds to pay for the events where these violations took place, he said.

Lazier told The Tribune in an email Tuesday that the university launched the investigation March 7 after receiving a report from an anonymous student. The chapter was informed of the results of the investigation on Monday.

The chapter is now not allowed to operate on the campus for at least two years. After that time, Lazier said the fraternity’s national headquarters could work with the university on a plan to re-establish a chapter on campus.

That would include requirements for members to attend hazing prevention workshops, men-and-masculinity training and health education seminars through Cal Poly’s Peers Understanding Listening Supporting Educating (PULSE) program.

According to the website for the Tau Kappa Epsilon national headquarters, TKE was founded in 1899 “after the discussion of a new society that regarded men not for wealth, rank or honor, but for personal worth and character.”

TKE national headquarters media representative Alex Baker told The Tribune in an email Tuesday that the local chapter “fully cooperated with Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo’s investigation.”

“The Rho-Omicron Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon will be put through our standard conduct process in the coming days,” he wrote. “We value our long term relationship with the university and do not condone hazing in any form.“

The Cal Poly chapter was founded in 1987 and currently has 52 chapter members, according to the national headquarters website. The local website and social media pages for TKE had all been removed as of Tuesday afternoon.

According to a previous Tribune report, the chapter was one of three involved in separate fraternity-related hazing incidents in the 2016-2017 school year.

Cal Poly cracking down on hazing

This is the fifth hazing-related group sanction at the San Luis Obispo university during the 2018-2019 school year, and the fourth involving a fraternity.

Asian-interest fraternity Lambda Phi Epsilon lost its affiliation with the university in October 2018, after an investigation found pledges were forced to take part in “unsafe activities” such as knuckle push ups and late-night ocean submersion. That fraternity is barred from campus for two years.

The local chapter of Sigma Pi was suspended in January during an ongoing investigation into reports of “actions that included the humiliation of its pledges, causing mental and emotional distress,” during its fall recruitment. It is suspended through June 15.

Kappa Sigma fraternity was suspended a month later, after a university investigation found the chapter forced pledges to do push-ups as punishment for wrong answers during a fraternity history quiz.

That chapter also was found to have held pledge events where minors had access to alcohol, according to a previous Tribune article. Its suspension is through June 15 as well.

Most recently, Cal Poly suspended its track team from competing in March and April after senior members of the team were found to have forced new members to drink alcohol, exercise and compete in a scavenger hunt for sexually explicit items, according to a Tribune article that ran in March.

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