Phi Kappa Psi Uses Taser On A Pledge, & The Washington And Lee University President Responded Appropriately
Fraternities are not having a very good week. As the University of Oklahoma continues to reel from the shocking racist chant from a busload of Sigma Alpha Epsilon members, another fraternity several states away has been kicked off campus. On Tuesday evening, Washington and Lee University suspended the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity for allegedly using a Taser on a pledge. (Update: In a statement on Friday, Washington and Lee University president Kenneth Ruscio made the correction that the weapon used by the Phi Kappa Psi member was a stun gun, not a Taser.)
According to a statement from university president Kenneth Ruscio, a Phi Kappa Psi member reportedly fired a Taser at a pledge during a fraternity-sponsored event. The incident was brought to the university's attention on March 6 by an anonymous tipster, who filed a report through the school's online hazing form. Ruscio confirmed it was "a specific and credible report." Following an investigation, Ruscio said the university concluded:
The decision to suspend the fraternity was made during a student-led hearing Tuesday, which included members of the Interfraternity Council (IFC). However, the student panel and university administrators seemed to have different views on punishment.
The IFC members voted to suspended Phi Kappa Psi for just 18 months, stating: "We believe that the nature of the charges reflects a lack of responsible new member education oversight by chapter leadership." The students added that the incident does not — I repeat, does not — reflect "a pervasive flaw within fraternity culture."
But Ruscio felt 18 months was hardly enough punishment for using a Taser on a pledge. The university president decided to suspend Phi Kappa Psi for three years because of the serious and disturbing nature of the hazing:
Ruscio said that he consulted with the Phi Kappa Psi national organization before handing down this harsher penalty. He added:
The Washington and Lee president is the latest university head to take such a strong and direct stance on fraternity violations. It seems like Ruscio took a note from University of Oklahoma president David Boren, who has been praised for his prompt response and firm actions in the wake of the racist "SAE, Never Going To Sign With Me" video. Boren quickly investigated the video, gave SAE 24 hours to close down its house, and eventually expelled two students identified in the disturbing video.
"You are disgraceful," Boren told the SAE members in a statement to the community. "Real Sooners are not racist. Real Sooners are not bigots. Real Sooners believe in equal opportunity."
Boren not only took quick action in condemning the video and the students caught on tape, but has also been supportive of the student protests taking place on campus. In fact, he's encouraging the demonstrations and has been urging students to continue to mobilize.
Well done, university presidents.