CINCINNATI-- A chapter of a fraternity founded at Miami University has been suspended at the southwest Ohio school after national fraternity officials said members repeatedly engaged in hazing and other unacceptable behavior that included drug and alcohol abuse.
Sigma Chi International Fraternity told university administrators in an April 4 letter that the members of the Miami chapter at the school in Oxford "have lost their way."
The fraternity concluded that there had been "illegal and continual drug usage and possible distribution of drugs" from the fraternity house. The chapter also was found to be "fostering a thirst to create and cause physical and mental harm to others," said the letter from Michal A. Greenberg, grand pro consul of the international fraternity.
Michael Dunn, executive director of the fraternity's national offices in suburban Chicago, would only say Tuesday that a lot of different issues led to the suspension. He said any decision to suspend a chapter is "heart-wrenching," and that it involved the fraternity's founding chapter made it even more difficult.
Dunn wouldn't provide details of hazing activities, but said "trying to take advantage or abuse any young man on the promise that he can be a member of a fraternity is just not what this fraternity is all about." Hazing - used at times by social groups to initiate new members - can involve harassment, humiliation and abuse. Dunn also declined to say whether the drug allegations had been reported to police.
Oxford police Chief Bob Holzworth said Tuesday that he was "loosely aware" of some alleged activities, but that there is no active investigation. Members of the chapter could not immediately be reached for comment. Police were posted at the fraternity house, at Sigma Chi's request, to make sure the moving-out process goes smoothly, which has been the case so far, Holzworth said.
Sigma Chi officials informed chapter members last week of the suspension, and the 29 members living in the house were to be evicted by Wednesday. Dunn says the chapter has about 35 members. Miami had already placed the chapter on disciplinary probation through the end of the school year because of an incident involving hazing and alcohol last spring, and the university supports the fraternity's suspension of its chapter, spokeswoman Claire Wagner said.
She said the university worked with the international fraternity for a couple of years to try to turn around the chapter's behavior and culture. The chapter, which was founded in 1855, was suspended by the university for several months in 2010 after it was reported that members damaged hotel rooms at a Columbus hotel and were intoxicated.
Sigma Chi will start a chapter again at Miami, but the exact timing hasn't been determined, Dunn said. The fraternity has 240 active chapters and more than 300,000 members, he said.