National fraternity suspends UMass chapter over hazing indictments

  • Pi Kappa Alpha, commonly known as Pike, at 374 North Pleasant Street in Amherst, Friday. The fraternity has been indicted on charges of hazing and providing a minor with alcohol. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/24/2018 11:58:03 PM

AMHERST — A University of Massachusetts fraternity suspended under the student code of conduct over hazing allegations and facing four grand jury indictments is being suspended by its parent organization.

The Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity, based in Memphis, Tennessee, announced the administrative suspension against the Theta Mu chapter, at 374 North Pleasant St., “for activities inconsistent with the fraternity’s standards and university policies,” according to a statement released by Brent Philips, Pi Kappa Alpha’s chief marketing officer.

The alleged hazing last fall involved fraternity members procuring alcohol for a minor and the hospitalization of a UMass student for alcohol poisoning. In announcing the indictments Friday, the Northwestern district attorney’s office said it was charging the Theta Mu chapter as a corporate entity.

The international fraternity’s statement, also issued Friday, acknowledges that the indictments are concerning, and that full cooperation is expected by the chapter and its members.

“The International Fraternity is committed to working with the University of Massachusetts and Theta Mu alumni in holding parties accountable,” the statement reads. “If allegations are found to be true, the fraternity will hold the chapter and individual members accountable to the fullest extent possible according to the fraternity constitution and codes.”

UMass put an interim suspension in place immediately after the incident was reported by Amherst Police last November, which barred members from all official social and recruitment activities. Following the indictments, handed up last week, all Theta Mu chapter activities were suspended.

Though being disciplined in various ways, the members of the fraternity are allowed by the university to continue living at the home, at the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets at the southeastern edge of the campus.

But UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said more serious consequences may follow.

“As part of the student conduct process one sanction that will be seriously evaluated is dissolving the university’s recognition of the chapter,” Blaguszewski said. “In partnership with the national organization, this would equate to revocation of the chapter’s charter, which would permanently strip the local chapter of official recognition.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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