George Washington University sorority investigated for alleged h - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

George Washington University sorority investigated for alleged hazing

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WASHINGTON -

Officials at George Washington University confirm they are investigating allegations of hazing at a sorority. The specifics of the allegations are not being made public nor are the number of complainants.

Nearly a third of the undergraduates at D.C.'s George Washington University are members of the 44 fraternities and sororities affiliated with the institution.

The school's Code of Conduct specifically forbids "any act of hazing," and the university's definition of hazing is extremely broad. It includes "paddling," "engaging in public stunts and buffoonery," "humiliating games and activities," even "scavenger hunts" and "road trips." Basically, "any mental or physical discomfort" is forbidden.

Why would any would-be member of a fraternity or sorority put up with hazing rituals?

"It [makes] them feel special," explains psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren. "This kind of activity gave them the feeling that this was a special club. That they're being treated in a special way. This was a secret sort of society, behind closed doors. And it has a certain kind of allure. Remember, we're talking about kids."

University officials confirm that someone has filed a hazing complaint against the Sigma Delta Tau sorority.

"There were reports that came to the attention of the university," Peter Konwerski, Ed.D, GWU's Dean of Students, told us in an interview. "And anytime a report of hazing comes up, we want to make sure that we investigate thoroughly."

The local members of Sigma Delta Tau declined to open the door when we identified ourselves as a news team.

Debbie Snyder, the executive director of the national sorority, spoke with us by phone, also confirming her group is participating in the probe, and noting the national sorority has a "zero tolerance" policy for hazing. Snyder says interviews are already being conducted at the GWU chapter of Sigma Delta Tau, which has been in some trouble in the past.

University officials confirm in 2005, the national stepped in and basically reorganized the sorority, dismissing some members. No public explanation was offered.

The university has a lot of leverage in this situation. The Code of Conduct says the student organization can be held accountable for the actions of its members.

And the university owns the building in which the sorority is housed.

University officials could not estimate when the investigation of alleged hazing at Sigma Delta Tau will be over.


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