The University of Rochester REALLY Fucked Over Sigma Chi

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So often life imitates art, and not often enough, at least in my own life, does that art happen to be of the pornographic variety. Except for that time I had to fight off the drunk pizza delivery guy who showed up to my house with some sausage that I did not order. I don’t want to count that though. I’d rather suppress the memory and safely eat DiGiornio for the rest of my life. Where was I? Art? Life? Imitation? Right. At the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, the art life being imitated, at least for the brothers and pledges of Sigma Chi, happens to be my very own Todd Storm columns. Sounds funny, until you remember that this is apparently really happening, at which point it becomes more terrible and appalling than anything.

On April 19th the University of Rochester administration, specifically the Office of the Dean of Students and Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, requested the investigation of a hazing allegation against Sigma Chi. Fair enough. The UR administration received information that there might be hazing at Sigma Chi and wanted to look into it. Can’t blame them for that.

What the administration can be blamed for is pretty much everything after that, because holy shit they’re awful.

From the University of Rochester’s student paper, The Campus Times:

“We received notification from persons in the Dean of Students office and [FSA] that they had concerns given some information they had received, indicating that there may be violations of UR policy,” UR Security Assistant Director of Investigations and Staff Development Dan Lafferty said.

Lafferty is running the investigation of Sigma Chi.

“Security people went to the house after we determined we weren’t able to locate them in any other way,” Lafferty said. “We decided that was the place that we were most likely to find them.”

Nice investigative work, campus Sherlock. You determined you could find Sigma Chis at Sigma Chi? Impressive deduction skills. You must masturbate to watch a lot of CSI. That first example illustrates the UR security’s density more than anything else. It nicely showcases the critical thinking skills of the people dealing with this investigation, as well as running this university.

The Sigma Chis, and the Sigma Chi pledges, by the way, have no idea who tipped off the administration. In fact, they can’t even figure out why anyone was tipped off. According to one pledge, drinking and other dangerous activities were not a part of the pledge process. Between that, and the fact that UR refuses to disclose what exactly the hazing allegation was about, it would seem as though this is not all that serious. No charges have even been filed, nor concrete accusations made. But hey, fuck it…right?

According to the same pledge, Security entered the Sigma Chi house on the Fraternity Quadrangle just after 11 a.m. The officers singled out two pledges first and “fast walked them to the Security vans,” then escorted the rest of the pledges and brothers, some still asleep in their room, to the vans, detaining them for questioning. The event was completely unanticipated by both the pledges and brothers of Sigma Chi, although the pledges were told by Security that the brothers were aware of the situation. So far, Security has conducted 17 individual interviews of pledges and brothers.

University of Rochester security guards raided Sigma Chi and dragged members from their house, and in some instances their beds, put them in vans, and interrogated them.

I thought this was America.

No, Randy Marsh, and presumably the Sigma Chis who were shouting this as they were dragged out of their fraternity house (because what better opportunity would one ever have), this is not America. It’s the University of Rochester. I won’t go on a diatribe about who has what rights or what was possibly violated, but rather comment that, private school or no, this was really fucking excessive, really fucking unnecessary, and is at best a gross abuse of rightful authority.

“They lied to us and were ultimately very deceitful,” the pledge said, citing incidences of potential misconduct such as lengthy detainment, the confiscation of mobile phones, and threats of expulsion and severe disciplinary actions that technically only the Dean of Students Office can enact. Security officers also refused to tell the brothers and pledges when they would be allowed to leave, causing many of them to miss class. Although the pledge said that most of the allegations seemed to be true, Security lied during interrogations, claiming that pledges had confessed to things they hadn’t.

During the course of the investigation, pledges and brothers are not allowed to have any contact with each other, as per an email sent from Kyle Orton, who, according to Dean of Students Matthew Burns, is “acting as Director of Center for Student Conflict Management right now.”

I’m pretty sure University of Rochester security just hazed the UR Sigma Chis, including the pledges, harder than anyone else ever has. Irony, however, isn’t something administrations like the one at the University of Rochester understand, for in an instance like this it would require a level of self-awareness that they are clearly devoid of.

But really, let’s run down the ridiculous list of shit the University of Rochester just pulled on Sigma Chi:

– Unannounced and forced entrance into their fraternity house.
– Detention of students, and while this is an assumption, I think it’s a safe one considering the rushed nature of the raid and detention, that some if not all of the students were taken without being given a reason as to why.
– Blatantly lying about the nature and permission of the raid and detentions.
– Confiscation of personal property, likely without permission.
– Lengthy detainment.
– Using threats, which were also likely lies, to obtain information.
– Withholding of information in regard to the reason and length of the Sigma Chi brothers’ and pledges’ detention.

And my personal favorite…

– University officials disrupted/impeded their own students’ academic pursuits.

Well done University of Rochester. Really quality institution you’re running up there. Again, this was all over what appear to be minor hazing charges at best, if anything at all. The fraternity’s own pledges confirmed that the security team had what appear to be credible allegations, but the allegations themselves seem rather inconsequential in the eyes of the fraternity members and pledges.

During the course of the investigation, pledges and brothers are not allowed to have any contact with each other, as per an email sent from Kyle Orton, who, according to Dean of Students Matthew Burns, is “acting as Director of Center for Student Conflict Management right now.”

In slightly related news, apparently everyone who was ever named Kyle Orton is fucking useless.

Orton is overseeing the adjudication of the case at the moment, but should the case be appealed, Burns will oversee the process.

“The investigation will continue until I determine there is no further information to gain from interviews,” Lafferty said.

The Dean’s office can also decide when to stop the investigation. With each set of interviews completed, the information is compiled in a report and sent to the Dean of Students’ office, which will “determine if there are grounds for disciplinary action,” Lafferty said.

Just so we’re clear, the University of Rochester hasn’t even determined if there are actually grounds for disciplinary action yet, and despite that, busted into the Sigma Chi house, I assume tazers blazing, and interrogated them for hours on end. How was this necessary? They raided a fucking fraternity house, detained members for extended periods of time, lied to their own students, and caused some of them to miss class. What. The. Fuck?

While I am not familiar with the policies that the University of Rochester security team operates under, the story does lay out the university’s definition of hazing.

The University Code of Conduct defines hazing as “any action taken or situation created, whether on or off University premises, which has the potential to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, or ridicule,”

It almost seems like the University of Rochester, when they raided, detained, and interrogated the Sigma Chis, were the ones doing the hazing, doesn’t it? There was action taken/a situation created that definitely had the potential to produce mental AND physical discomfort, and probably did. Many would consider a school security guard forcibly shoving them into a van while in their pajamas to be embarrassing. All of the aforementioned actions (the raid, detention, etc) as well as the lies, confiscation of property, length of detention, and threats of expulsion by the school’s security certainly constitute harassment. Also, all of this would probably garner Sigma Chi some ridicule on campus. The fact that membership to the University of Rochester’s student body was referenced by security, by threatening expulsion, absolutely makes it sound like the University of Rochester just hazed its own students. After all, in the eyes of the University of Rochester’s officials, there was a membership at stake. Again, irony is awesome, at least when it’s not on a hipster’s t-shirt.

“I think it’s important to know that… hazing is not something students should be supportive of,” Smalls said.

Smalls added, “However, as an administration, we’ve found that using hazing-like tactics is an incredibly effective way to obtain information from basically any splooge, oh sorry, student, here in the office we jokingly refer to students as ‘splooges.’ Anyway, we think hazing is a great way to get info from a student, so we’re supportive of hazing as long as we’re doing it, just not when splooges, er, sorry, when students are doing it. Now where THE FUCK is the SPLOOGE BITCH that was supposed to bring me my coffee!”

“…I am encouraged that we have organizations that uphold their values, enact their values, and live by their values on a daily basis.”

Smalls continued by saying that seeing fraternal organizations live by their values sets a great example for the University of Rochester, which one day hopes to be able live by their own values.

When asked if he still wanted to be a brother of Sigma Chi, the same anonymous pledge said, “absolutely.”

Damn right. Initiate that kid.

Sigma Chi nationals, and president of the NIC, Peter Smithhisler, who I believe is a Sigma Chi, I implore you to look into what happened at the University of Rochester. Your members were clearly abused. Don’t run and hide or try to appease the university or the media just because the word “hazing” was involved. Stand up for your members, because this is complete bullshit. Oh, and University of Rochester, fuck you.

[via The Campus Times]

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