In 2018, new members of the Kansas chapter of Delta Upsilon were urinated on, spat on and hit repeatedly by other pledges in retaliation for coming forward to University of Kansas officials regarding hazing practices, records obtained by the Kansan show.
The event occurred after an investigation by the student conduct office, which started in April 2018.
DU closed on July 31, 2018. But the hazing behaviors that led to the Kansas chapter's termination have remained a mystery until now.
The Kansan recently received documents from an open records request revealing what the University found in multiple investigations into the fraternity. While the document is heavily redacted, a few of the acts that violated the University's Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities were revealed.
Now, the fraternity Alpha Kappa Lambda resides in the house where DU previously was located at 1025 Emery Road in Lawrence.
A concerned parent of a Delta Upsilon pledge reached out to the Office of the Provost in April 2018 about their son’s experience in the fraternity, according to a letter from Lance Watson, the former director of the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. The University then launched an investigation into the chapter.
About a month before, the chapter — including a former president — was found responsible for hazing after members tied a highly intoxicated member to the decorative anchor outside of the Delta Gamma sorority house, according to a University hearing panel’s investigation.
Pledges often were subjected to sleep deprivation, physical violence and forced alcohol consumption, according to an investigation by the student conduct office into DU.
“This violence, coupled with forced alcohol consumption, make it clear this chapter maintained a culture which endangered the health and safety of its new members with little regard for the fact the new members would eventually become their brothers,” Vice Provost for Student Affairs Tammara Durham wrote to the fraternity on July 31, 2018.
The new members were retaliated against for sharing their experience with student conduct officers, according to a July 2018 document from the University hearing panel, obtained through an open records request. Fraternity members tried to deceive their advisers by hiding hazing practices, the panel wrote in its summary of findings.
DU is one of the many fraternity chapters on campus the University has investigated for hazing. Throughout the 2018-2019 academic year, roughly 10 Greek life organizations were investigated by the student conduct office for alleged hazing violations. Five organizations were found responsible for hazing, according to the Conduct Status Report from the University.
While other Greek organizations also appeared in the documents obtained by the Kansan, those documents were heavily redacted, similar to previous requests made under the Kansas Open Records Act for information about hazing. The record referencing incidents at DU had the most information regarding which behaviors resulted in sanctions from the student conduct office.
During the 2017-2018 academic year, Chancellor Douglas Girod announced the University would be assembling a task force to find a way to address the challenges. The task force is in the final stages of drafting its report, said University spokeswoman Erinn Barcomb-Peterson.
“The sorority and fraternity community at the University of Kansas has been an important part of the student experience for many Jayhawks,” Barcomb-Peterson said. “KU is committed to raising our standards for health and wellness and among fraternities and sororities.”
What happened at DU?
Nine out of the 22 DU pledges in the 2017-2018 school year alleged in the investigation that DU fostered a culture of endangerment and personal servitude.
Scott Beeler, the chapter's lawyer, said the fraternity did not contest any of the allegations. Due to the concern, DU's house corporation voted not to open the chapter house in fall 2018. Members decided to "trash" the house before the spring semester ended, Durham wrote in a letter. The letter did not detail the damage.
Dr. Susan Lipkins, a psychologist and author of "Preventing Hazing" explains the cycle of hazing that can occur in the Greek community.
Durham, who has the final say in student conduct proceedings, decided to go a step further, kicking DU off of campus due to a “substantial number of behaviors,” Durham wrote in a July 2018 letter obtained by the Kansan.
These behaviors go back years.
On March 7, 2016, the chapter was found responsible for hazing and harming its new members, but the behaviors that led to that specific sanction were redacted in the document the Kansan obtained.
Nearly a year later, on May 18, 2017, the chapter was found responsible by a formal hearing panel for violating student code, including organizational misconduct, disruption to the community, and the alcohol and drug policy.
In the July 2018 letter to the chapter from Durham, the fraternity was said to have done the following in the previous year:
- Drew its letters in cocaine at the chapter's spring break house, not on campus
- Damaged another fraternity house
- Misappropriated philanthropy money for T-shirts
- Withdrew from all expected governance within the Interfraternity Council
- Hosted a party on the last day of classes of the semester
The chapter was placed on probation until May 18, 2019. It was restricted from being involved in various university activities, having alcohol in the house and at any social events, and it had to participate “in a variety of educational programs.”
During its probation period, May 2017 to May 2019, the chapter tied a highly intoxicated member to Delta Gamma’s decorative anchor. That event extended the chapter’s probation for a year.
But when allegations rose again in April 2018, DU was kicked off campus.
How did KU react?
The hazing investigation was done by the University and Delta Upsilon’s headquarters. Their investigation led to the closure of the fraternity for five years starting July 31, 2018. The fraternity cannot reestablish at the University until fall 2023.
Justin Kirk, the Delta Upsilon International Fraternity executive director, said in a statement to the Kansan:
“Following hazing allegations from our Kansas Chapter in 2016 and up to the time of the chapter’s closure in 2018, Delta Upsilon International Fraternity worked in close partnership with the University of Kansas and alumni advisors to address concerns, enhance accountability and provide education to the chapter on a number of areas related to university and fraternity policy. Despite these efforts, unfortunately, the chapter continued to violate policy, resulting in its closure.”
A representative of the chapter, whose name was redacted from the documents obtained by the Kansan through an open records request, tried to tell student conduct officers these behaviors were done by a few “bad apples,” Durham wrote.
“These ‘bad apples’ were acting under the ‘color’ of the chapter and representing it, regardless of the disagreement by some members,” Durham wrote. “The chapter never sought help from its advisors or the university to address these concerns, and, in fact, sought to deceive its advisors as was learned through the course of the interviews. This ceases to be just a few bad actors within this scenario, but a larger, systemic issue that must be addressed to maintain the safety of the community.”
When asked for more information behind the choice to terminate Delta Upsilon’s organization status, Durham redirected the Kansan to Barcomb-Peterson.
To return to the University, DU has to verify all its membership from the time of the allegations is no longer affiliated with the University or has completed its undergraduate work. The chapter has to notify the University at least two semesters in advance that it wants to return.
“I concur with the hearing panel’s statement that these ongoing behaviors ‘have become a culture’ for the chapter,” Durham wrote in a letter obtained by the Kansan through an open records request. “And the only way to remedy the culture is to ensure the chapter has a full turnover of its membership before returning to the University.”