By Amelia Lawrey —
U of L is investigating an alleged hazing incident on campus.
University spokesperson John Karman confirmed Kappa Sigma is under the school’s investigation, adding he could not provide details because the investigation is ongoing.
Kappa Sigma headquarters, unavailable at the time of our print publication, released a statement to The Cardinal regarding the allegations.
“The Kappa Sigma fraternity has been made aware of alleged violations of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity Code of Conduct by the Mu-Eta Chapter at the University of Louisville. The fraternity is in the process of investigating these allegations and once the investigation is complete, the fraternity will take the appropriate action if the allegations are substantiated,” Executive Director Mitchell Wilson said in an email.
Sources say a new fraternity member returned to his dorm last week covered in alcohol, which caught the attention of his resident assistant. The RA report reached the Dean of the Students, who launched the investigation.
Ricky Jones, chair of the university’s Pan-African studies department, studies national hazing incidents and investigations. Jones said the allegations mirror many fraternities’ hazing behaviors.
“What you see most of the time is inordinate amounts of physical abuse in black fraternities, in NPHC groups, and inordinate amounts of alcohol abuse in white groups. And both can lead to death,” Jones said. “Usually what you’ll get are denials by active members and sometimes you’ll get cover-ups by pledges who still want to be accepted by their brothers.”
Shawn Baumann, Kappa Sigma’s president, declined to comment on the record about the allegations.
Pike fraternity members also declined to speak, and when Cardinal reporters approached Phi Tau members Sept. 24, one member told the others not to comment.
Jones said an investigation’s length depends on the incident and the investigative strength and willingness of the university. U of L, Jones said, does not have that strength or willingness.
“What’s really disturbing to people like me who’ve done this research for a long time, is why universities don’t have a more consistent engagement and a concern about hazing. They seem to only really engage it when a student is injured or killed, and that’s just insufficient,” Jones said.
U of L’s student handbook reads, “The university is dedicated to promoting a safe and healthy campus environment for its students, faculty, staff and visitors. As such, the university does not tolerate hazing.”
Greeks on campus say the incident has cast a dark cloud over all Greek Life on campus.
Andrew Burch, a U of L student and former Delta Tau Delta member, said initiated members during recruitment in 2015 were told anyone accused and found guilty of hazing would be removed from the fraternity and face criminal charges.
One student, a campus sorority president, said these allegations hurt Greek life’s reputation. That student wished to remain anonymous to protect the identity of her sorority.
“These claims break my heart for the fraternity and for the Greek community as a whole. I hope that the air is cleared and that we all move forward in a positive direction,” she said.
When asked how she thinks these claims could affect non-affiliated students’ views about Greek life on campus, that president said, “Just the allegation of it tarnishes the reputation of Greek life, but I think that we have several organizations and leaders on campus that help break the stigma.”
There are workshops during and after Greek recruitment to prevent hazing. One anti-hazing event is planned for the Greek community this month to prevent future issues.
File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal