ROCK HILL, S.C. – Winthrop University has terminated registration and recognition of the Rock Hill chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity until at least 2008 after a campus inquiry determined the organization engaged in hazing during the fall 2004 semester. Sigma Alpha Epsilon International Fraternity’s Board of Directors is expected to take similar action later this month, university officials said.
"The university has zero tolerance for hazing, and we're particularly concerned with activities that may put students at risk, both physically and academically," said Dr. Frank Ardaiolo, vice president for Student Life, in explaining the action. “The parent SAE organization continues to be fully supportive of this action, and we appreciate the sense of shared commitment to high standards with which the international organization has approached these matters.”
State law (See below) defines “hazing” to include treatment “of a tyrannical, abusive, shameful, insulting, or humiliating nature,” as well as physical assaults leading to injury.
Ardaiolo said the infractions leading to the chapter termination involved physical endurance tests, prolonged sleep deprivation and similar requirements being directed toward undergraduate fraternity pledges to an extent that interfered with their potential for academic success. While no student was injured during the activities, Ardaiolo noted the point of anti-hazing policies is to pre-empt harm to students, and that is why Winthrop is treating the chapter’s violations with its most serious organizational penalty. The inquiry first came about after university officials noted an unusually large number of chapter pledges were dropping out of the induction process during fall semester.
A letter of termination was issued to local chapter officers on Dec. 21. Members who had been living in the chapter house at 718 Charlotte Avenue have been offered university housing for spring semester, which begins at Winthrop on Jan. 10.
Chapter members are banned from conducting any activities under the SAE name, wearing fraternity letters or socializing under fraternity auspices. The termination order will remain in effect until January 2008, when SAE International will be eligible to petition to register a chapter again at Winthrop University. The university may attach special conditions and restrictions to the registration at that time if it so chooses.
Ardaiolo said that the inquiry will continue once students return to campus, with members found to be responsible for violations of the university’s conduct code and/or state law subject to possible individual sanctions. That inquiry will be conducted internally by Dean of Students Bethany Marlowe and Winthrop Police Chief Frank Zebedis.
For additional information, contact Sigma Alpha Epsilon International Regional spokesman Ryan Weiers, Assistant Executive Director, Region I, Charlotte, N.C. at 704-334-5185.
HAZING SECTIONS, SC Code
SECTION 59-101-200. Hazing prohited; penalties. [SC ST SEC 59-101-200]
(A) For purposes of this section:
(1) "Student" means a person enrolled in a state university, college, or other public institution of higher learning.
(2) "Superior student" means a student who has attended a state university, college, or other public institution of higher learning longer than another student or who has an official position giving authority over another student.
(3) "Subordinate student" means a person who attends a state university, college, or other public institution of higher learning who is not defined as a "superior student" in subitem (2).
(4) "Hazing" means the wrongful striking, laying open hand upon, threatening with violence, or offering to do bodily harm by a superior student to a subordinate student with intent to punish or injure the subordinate student, or other unauthorized treatment by the superior student of a subordinate student of a tyrannical, abusive, shameful, insulting, or humiliating nature.
(B) Hazing at all state supported universities, colleges, and public institutions of higher learning is prohibited. When an investigation has disclosed substantial evidence that a student has committed an act or acts of hazing, the student may be dismissed, expelled, suspended, or punished as the president considers appropriate.
(C) The provisions of this section are in addition to the provisions of Article 6, Chapter 3 of Title 16.
(D) The provisions of Section 30-4-40(a)(2) and 30-4-70(a)(1) continue to apply to hazing incidents.
SECTION 16-3-510. Hazing unlawful; definitions. [SC ST SEC 16-3-510]
It is unlawful for a person to intentionally or recklessly engage in acts which have a foreseeable potential for causing physical harm to a person for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with a chartered or nonchartered student, fraternal, or sororal organization. Fraternity, sorority, or other organization for purposes of this section means those chartered and nonchartered fraternities, sororities, or other organizations operating in connection with a school, college, or university. This section does not include customary athletic events or similar contests or competitions, or military training whether state, federal, or educational.
SECTION 16-3-520. Unlawful to assist in or fail to report hazing. [SC ST SEC 16-3-520]
It is unlawful for any person to knowingly permit or assist any person in committing acts made unlawful by § 16-3-510 or to fail to report promptly any information within his knowledge of acts made unlawful by § 16-3-510 to the chief executive officer of the appropriate school, college, or university.
SECTION 16-3-530. Penalties. [SC ST SEC 16-3-530]
Any person who violates the provisions of §§ 16-3-510 or 16-3-520 is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for a term not to exceed twelve months, or both.
SECTION 16-3-540. Consent not a defense. [SC ST SEC 16-3-540]
The implied or express consent of a person to acts which violate § 16-3-510 does not constitute a defense to violations of §§ 16-3-510 or 16-3-520.