The University of Texas in Austin announced on November 4, 2019, that the Phi Kappa Phi fraternity had been shut down in the aftermath of a comprehensive investigation into multiple hazing allegations. Technically, the fraternity’s charter was cancelled for four years, to be followed by a two year period of probation. The fraternity had been investigated for serious hazing violations three times over the course of the past eight years.
The most recent investigation focused on the 2018-2019 school year. During that time period, Phi Kappa Phi pledges were shot with air guns. They were also forced to eat “spicy soup,” a mix-mash of cat food and ghost peppers. Pledges were required to run from the chapter house to a nearby building whilst chugging milk blended with laundry detergent, hand soap, or vinegar. The investigation revealed that pledges were placed in a small closet without light. They were forced to complete a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle lit by a strobe light while electronic dance music blared incessantly. Finally, pledges were forced to be continually on-call to serve older members of the fraternity. This included cleaning up after them and providing what amounted to chauffer services to and from area bars and nightclubs.
As mentioned, this was the third comprehensive investigation into hazing at the UT fraternity in the past eight years. In 2011 and again in 2016, investigation revealed that the fraternity forced pledges to consume inordinate amounts of alcohol. Pledges were also required to eat unwanted substances of different types.
After the 2011 investigation and finding of forced alcohol consumption by pledges, UT permitted the fraternity to operate under what was called an agreement of mutual resolution. There is no indicated that the fraternity or its members were penalized in any manner. In the aftermath of the 2016 investigation, the fraternity was placed on probation for one year. About one year after being released from that probationary term, was again heavily involved in hazing.
Phi Kappa Phi was the second organization a UT to face being shuttered this academic year. A so-called campus “spirit group,” the Texas Cowboys, was suspended for six years as a result of hazing that occurred at a retreat.
Multiple improper hazing activities occurred during the referenced retreat. The most egregious were forced consumption of massive amounts of alcohol and the infliction of cruelty to animals.
Prevalence of Hazing in the United States
Since 2005, there have been approximately 80 fraternity-related deaths in the United States. Most of these deaths were the result of some sort of hazing ritual or practice. Of those deaths, a majority involved the misuse of alcohol, including forced consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Despite some attempts by colleges, universities, and national fraternal organizations to bring an end to the practice, hazing continues apace across the country. While some incidents of hazing make headlines throughout any given academic year, a considerable number of hazing incidents are never reported. An estimated majority of all hazing incidents are never reported to authorities, including campus officials or Greek organization national offices.
Membership in fraternities has increased by 50 percent in the past decade. There are about 400,000 men in U.S. fraternities, with approximately 100,000 new pledges each year.
Protecting Legal Rights Following a Hazing Incident
If you were the victim of hazing, or if you’ve a son or daughter who was targeted by hazing, you need to understand your important legal rights. A Doan Law Firm fraternity hazing injury lawyer stands ready to fight for you. You can reach us right now, or at any time of the day or night, by calling (800) 349-0000.
We are a nationwide law practice, with offices located from coast-to-coast. Because we are a national law firm, we have access to a wide array of resources that are invaluable in aiding us in mounting strong cases on behalf of our hazing injury clients.
We can schedule an initial consultation any time convenient for you at any one of our offices. In addition, we can arrange for a virtual appoint online with an experienced, tenacious fraternity hazing injury lawyer. There is no charge for an initial consultation.
The Doan Law Firm makes an attorney fee promise to you. We charge no fee unless we win for you.