Cal Poly sorority investigated for possible hazing at party

Cal Poly officials are looking into the possibility that hazing may have occurred at an off-campus party late last month involving members of the Alpha Phi sorority.

Stephan Lamb, the university’s director of Student Life and Leadership, said Cal Poly officials will hold a judicial hearing with sorority leaders today.

The investigation comes in response to reports that an 18-year-old female freshman had consumed alcohol excessively Sept. 28, the day after the sorority offered bids to prospective members who went through the pledge process.

The student was taken to the hospital for treatment after a 911 call was made. Cal Poly’s student newspaper, the Mustang Daily, reported that the student had her roommate call 911.

Lamb said a decision about disciplinary action likely would come early next week. He said no police departments are involved with the investigation of the incident.

The party took place at a private residence and involved Alpha Phi members, Lamb said.

Some fraternity members of Pi Kappa Alpha attended the gathering, but they have been cleared.

If Cal Poly officials decide to punish the sorority, Alpha Phi could face possible penalties that could range from revocation of chapter recognition to educational training.

California has a law providing immunity from prosecution to underage drinkers who seek help for themselves or their peers.

But Cal Poly still may discipline Greek organizations for violating behavioral rules they’ve agreed to abide by.

Lamb said fraternities tend to be much more likely to violate agreements they have with the university on how to behave than sororities do. He estimated that for every sorority violation fraternities commit about 20 breaches.

Negative events in recent memory have stained the reputation of Greek organizations at Cal Poly.

Those have included the alcohol-related hazing death of freshman fraternity pledge Carson Starkey in 2008 as well as the shutdown of Sigma Phi Epsilon in May after an underage drinking party.

But the university isn’t considering closing down Greek life, Lamb said.

“We’re committed to addressing behaviors that place students in harm’s way,” Lamb said.

A Fraternity and Sorority Assessment Project report conducted in February by a group of Greek organizations detailed several aspects of Greek life at Cal Poly.

The report was conducted on campus by a coalition of national Greek-related organizations and involved interviews with Cal Poly sororities, fraternities and university officials.

The report includes a citation of negative behavior among sororities that included “eating disorders, cocaine use, promiscuity and binge eating.” More negatively, the report also mentioned there might be a culture of “black out, pass out or put out or you’re not going home” at some sororities.

Recommendations by the coalition included a need for greater value amongst Greek organizations on service and academic excellence — laying out several suggestions for how to accomplish those goals.

But the report also said Greek organizations have shown positive strengths, including leadership involvement in Week of Welcome, academic and peer education programs, and participation in 11,000 hours of community service and $120,000 raised for various philanthropies.