ATHENS — Ohio University has pushed disciplinary action on several student organizations after allegations of hazing.
A total of 18 student organizations, most of them fraternities, are under some kind of review or other discipline, according to Ohio University’s website.
No criminal investigations have been opened, according to Ohio University Police Chief Andrew Powers.
“The conduct described, if true, would certainly be illegal, but that doesn’t make it actionable,” he said in a statement obtained by WEWS-TV in Cleveland.
According to a release from the university, officials have lifted restrictions on fraternities Phi Gamma Delta, Phi Delta Theta, Pi Kappa Alpha, Phi Kappa Tau and Delta Tau Delta. Restrictions have been lifted conditionally for two other fraternities, Delta Upsilon and Sigma Phi Epsilon.
The university has placed modified restrictions on Alpha Kappa Psi and Phi Chi Theta, business fraternities and Pi Kappa Phi, ACACIA, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Theta Chi, Pi Beta Phi, Delta Zeta, and Chi Omega fraternities.
A Cease and Desist order continues for Beta Theta Pi, Lambda Chi Alpha, Phi Kappa Psi, Sigma Chi, all fraternities Men's Rugby, and any extra-curricular activities outside of The Marching 110.
Investigators from WEWS-TV found that 27 hazing complaints were filed with OU since the beginning of the school year. Earlier this month, the university suspended all fraternities after receiving seven hazing complaints in 48 hours, WEWS-TV reported.
Allegations in the claims include fraternities locking pledges in a basement for days and forcing them to run five miles around campus, pledges being beaten by current members and forcing new members to drink alcohol.
“I think we want everyone on this campus to feel safe,” Carly Leatherwood, Ohio University’s senior director of Communications Services said in a report by WEWS-TV.
“Any time we have allegations like hazing come forward, we do coordinate with the police,” she said. “the police look at the allegations before the university does anything.”
Since 1983, hazing has been a crime in Ohio. Hazing is defined as “doing any act or coercing another, including the victim, do to any act of initiation into any student or other organization that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm to a person.”
Ohio University Police said that they were unable to identify a victim in any of the cases linked to student groups, according to WEWS-TV.
Rex Elliot, an attorney representing the parents of Collin Wiant, an Ohio University freshman who died last November, said he doesn’t believe them. He told WEWS-TV that he believes that if investigators can’t find a victim of hazing, they either aren’t looking for them or don’t want to deal with the issue.
According to a lawsuit filed in connection with Wiant’s death, Wiant was “pelted with eggs, hit with a belt and repeatedly punched” by members of Sigma Pi, a fraternity Wiant was pledging. The lawsuit also claims the fraternity provided or forced Wiant to take drugs and drink alcohol.