Greek Life Scandals: Where Fraternity Investigations Stand Across the Country

Image: Sigma Chi

Men walk into the Sigma Chi fraternity house after the University of Houston suspended the fraternity Wednesday, March 18, 2015, in Houston, Texas. The University of Houston president announced Tuesday that the Sigma Chi chapter and five of its student members have been suspended and that an investigation into pledge activity is ongoing. David J. Phillip / AP

All over the country, a handful of fraternities are making headlines for all the wrong reasons — racism, an investigation into hazing, vandalism and a private Facebook page showing naked pictures of unconscious women.

Their national organizations have acted quickly to sanction the chapters involved, and schools have been quick to investigate and promise punishment.

“Now we must begin the task of seeking forgiveness and taking steps to make sure that this never happens again,” Blaine Ayers, the executive director of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, told reporters this week about a racism investigation at its University of Oklahoma chapter.

He could have been speaking for others, too. Here’s a look at where things stand.

Pennsylvania State University

Fraternity: Kappa Delta Rho

What happened: According to authorities, a former member came forward with evidence that the fraternity was running an invitation-only Facebook page that showed hazing rituals, drug deals and naked women who appeared to be passed out.

The response: The national fraternity suspended the chapter for a year and said it would be reorganized. The school president said he was committed to taking action against those responsible but won’t rush to judgment. State police are investigating.

Penn State Students Call for Stronger Action Against Fraternity 0:45

University of Houston

Fraternity: Sigma Chi

What happened: The national office said it was made aware in January of “inappropriate pledging activities” at the Houston chapter. The nature of the hazing was not made public, but the school president said it was “disturbing” and presented a risk to students’ health and safety.

The response: The school suspended five students and the chapter launched an investigation. Police also opened an investigation, which they said could take two to three weeks.

University of Michigan

Fraternity: Sigma Alpha Mu

What happened: Some members of the fraternity helped trash two ski resorts during an alcohol-fueled weekend in January, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

The response: The chapter president apologized in January. The national organization this week disbanded the chapter. In a statement, the executive director also criticized the chapter officers for not cooperating with the university’s investigation.

Image: Blane Ayers, Brandon Weghorst
Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity Executive Director Blaine Ayers, right, and spokesperson Brandon Weghorst take questions from reporters after a news conference in Chicago. M. Spencer Green / AP

University of Oklahoma

Fraternity: Sigma Alpha Epsilon

What happened: In a video that surfaced earlier this month, fraternity members were captured singing a song that repeatedly used a racial epithet and suggested that the fraternity would never let in a black member.

The response: The national fraternity disbanded the chapter, and the school shut down the house. Two students were expelled. (One later apologized directly, and the family of the second apologized.)

Changes: The national organization said on Wednesday that it would put all its 15,000 undergraduate members through diversity training, hire a diversity director, establish a hotline to report inappropriate behavior and review all its chapters.

University of South Carolina

Fraternity: Pi Kappa Alpha

What happened: A fraternity brother was found dead on Wednesday at a home off campus. Authorities told NBC affiliate WIS that there were no obvious signs of foul play. An autopsy was scheduled Thursday.

The response: The national fraternity suspended the chapter and said that it is cooperating with investigators. A university spokesman said there are “a lot of rumors out there” but “we are focused on helping our community grieve and heal.”

North Carolina State University

Fraternity: Pi Kappa Phi

What happened: A female student said she found a pledge book written by members of the fraternity that allegedly included racist, sexist and other derogatory comments. "The quotes in the book are reprehensible and unacceptable. We have sent staff to Raleigh to investigate the circumstances of the situation," Pi Kappa Phi's CEO, Mark E. Timmes, said in a statement Saturday.

The response: The university suspended Pi Kappa Phi on Thursday and the national organization is investigating as well. The school also banned alcohol at most fraternity events Friday in response to the allegations and to other alleged drug and sexual assault claims involving another fraternity.

Obscenity-Laced Pledge Book Allegedly Linked to Frat 1:34