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UW-Whitewater suspends fraternity for alcohol, hazing violations

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Kayla Bunge
May 14, 2008
— UW-Whitewater has suspended the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity for three years after an investigation showed the organization engaged in underage drinking and hazing, university officials said.

The university and the national fraternity organization imposed the suspension Tuesday, following a complaint from a parent last month.


“We do everything we can to ensure students’ safety,” said Mary Beth Mackin, assistant dean of student life. “This is a step we had to take.”


Much of the underage drinking and hazing—including servitude and eating or drinking strange things—occurred during the fraternity’s recruitment process, she said.


But it was the pervasiveness of alcohol within the organization, she said, that concerned university officials.


“It seemed like everything they did there involved alcohol,” Mackin said.


The suspension essentially disbands the Iota-Omicron chapter, founded in 1963, she said. TKE is not allowed to operate in any form over the next three years.


“We just felt that the safety concerns were so significant that we really needed to have this chapter be gone for a while, especially until the current group of members has gone through the university,” Mackin said.


The university chose to involve the national fraternity organization to “send a stronger message to students,” Mackin said.


Had the university acted alone and suspended the fraternity as a student organization, TKE simply wouldn’t have been able to advertise its activities on campus or use meeting space on campus.


“But by bringing in the national organization … it prevents them from operating out of the house on campus,” she said.


Chapter President Jason Moore did not return a phone call before press time.


The TKE house at 1238 W. Main St. has been unoccupied since a fire in November caused severe damage. The house is being renovation and would have been ready for students to move in this fall.


Mackin said the owner of the house likely will rent it to other students while the fraternity is suspended.


The fraternity can reapply to become a student organization and be recognized again by the national fraternity organization after Aug. 15, 2011. But the university imposed strict criteria if TKE is reinstated:


-- The chapter and the house must be alcohol-free for two years.


-- The first recruitment will be supervised by the national fraternity organization, and written plans must be approved by the university.


-- The chapter must devote 100 hours of service to alcohol and hazing education on campus.


“We want them off on the right foot,” Mackin said of the conditions of TKE’s return. “It’s hard to get past that history.”



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