On Thursday, April 2, 2015, the fraternity of Pi Kappa Phi at the Pennsylvania State University was shut down following allegations of hazing and underage drinking despite the fact that the fraternity was already on probation. This marks the second fraternity at Penn State to be closed due to a pattern of questionable conduct by its members. In the Penn State Interfraternity Council’s official release, its President, Rick Groves, called the actions by the fraternity “shameful and inexcusable.”
According to Pi Kappa Phi’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Timmes, “Accountability to Pi Kappa Phi’s shared standard and values marks the true distinction between a fraternity experience and that of a ‘social club'” and the “students’ recent actions have demonstrated their inability and unwillingness to abide by clear expectations.” According to Timmes, the closure resulted from consistently poor and unacceptable behavior by the Penn State chapter of Pi Kappa Phi. The inadequacy of oversight from the National Fraternity and Penn State, in light of the consistently poor and unacceptable behavior at issue, is a possible basis for liability that a Pennsylvania Hazing lawyer may explore in evaluating whether the hazing victims have grounds for Civil Action.
Violations of Interfraternity Council Policies
The Penn State Interfraternity Council’s Executive Board decided unanimously to revoke the recognition of Pi Kappa Phi’s Penn State Chapter for at least three years due to various violations of Interfraternity Council policies, which include hazing, alcohol violations, disorderly conduct, providing false information, hosting unregistered socials, and violating the terms of the fraternity’s suspension. Despite the Interfraternity Council’s unanimous decision to revoke the Pi Kappa Phi chapter, the reports indicate it was a joint-closure with the National Fraternity. According to the Daily Collegian, Penn State’s official campus newspaper, Penn State administrators received an anonymous letter in December of 2014 alleging that Pi Kappa Phi was engaged in hazing practices.
Pennsylvania Hazing Laws
Although hazing has traditionally been viewed as a rite of passage in Greek organizations, sports teams, military units, and other groups, some forms of hazing can inflict serious physical and emotional injury on its victims. Hazing laws in Pennsylvania not only impose criminal penalties on any person who hazes another, but it also permits victims of hazing abuse to seek monetary compensation for any physical or emotional injuries the victim may have suffered. In some cases, particularly where institutions fail to adopt anti-hazing policies, institutions and organizations may also be subject to liability for hazing for the failure to provide adequate oversight.
Hazing can involve nothing more than demeaning tasks, silly rituals, and embarrassing ceremonies. On the other hand, hazing can also involve abusive, dangerous, and illegal activities such as physical abuse, psychological abuse, excessive consumption of alcohol, personal servitude, consumption of unpleasant substances, brandings, and beatings.
Pennsylvania hazing law forbids:
- Whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance.
- Forced physical activities that could bring about “extreme mental stress,” including, “sleep deprivation, forced exclusion from social contact, and forced conduct which could result in extreme embarrassment,” and
- Requiring victims to destroy or steal property.
If you, or your loved one, have been the victim of a hazing incident, seek the help of experienced personal injury lawyers who know Pennsylvania hazing law. Slade McLaughlin and Paul Lauricella understand how to develop a hazing case from ground up — from the individual perpetrator(s) all the way up the chain to the institution. The lawyers at McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C. possess decades of experience and knowledge, and they have secured many large verdicts and settlements on behalf of their clients in the past. Contact McLaughlin and Lauricella, P.C. today for your free and confidential consultation.
Photo Credit: Flickr @colecamplese