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Sifting through the haze...

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Sifting through the haze...

Sifting through the haze | University Press

Last fall, the biggest news to hit FAU was about a kidnapping.

“FAU fraternity under investigation in hazing incident,” read the headline of The Palm Beach Post. “Fraternity suspended as FAU investigates hazing,” read the headline of The Sun-Sentinel.

As the media reported, a 19-year-old at FAU’s Xi chapter of the Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp) fraternity was kidnapped by his fraternity brothers on the afternoon of Oct. 17.

His hands and feet were duct-taped together, and he was forced to drink beer and take shots of liquor. That student, Nick Letteri, tried to escape, but his SigEp brothers tied him up again. Letteri threw up repeatedly, blacked out, and finally ended up in Boca Raton Community Hospital.

The news shocked FAU administrators, who declared that hazing “would not be tolerated.” Within 12 weeks, SigEp was kicked off campus for a year. End of story.

Or was it? According to a UP investigation, hazing is still happening on the Boca campus.
“It’s no secret for certain people,” said Dan Gootner, a former SigEp member and senior marketing major. “[Hazing] is an unspoken thing, and everyone knows what everyone does.”
According to past and present Greek Life members, SigEp may not be the only ones to haze, and they might not be the worst.

Chris Johnston, a senior art major, said he was hazed when he “rushed” the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha, also known as Pike, in 2006. Johnston said there is no way to join a fraternity without any type of hazing.

He was a pledged Pike for one day, then dropped because he said he experienced “mental stress” and the pledges were treated badly.

“They would put bags over your head and call you ‘assholes’ for hours at a time. The pledges to them were not brothers; they were just pieces of shit that were objectified, and I could entirely see how someone could get hurt from a pledge system,” said Johnston. “They didn’t care about you. They would call you at any point of the day and tell you to do something, and if you couldn’t do it, you had to find another pledge to do it.”
Then, Johnston decided to “rush” SigEp, and said he was treated with respect.
“In SigEp, you’re a brother from the first day you join, and you’re never treated [less than a brother].”

Johnston wasn’t a SigEp member when the incident with Letteri took place, but he explained that SigEp hazes in moderation.

“[Letteri] was kidnapped, but they didn’t mention the fact that his pledge brothers kidnapped someone else a couple weeks earlier. It’s perfectly healthy behavior,” said Johnston. “Something has to go on; there has to be something fun, and something you can tell stories about.”

Till this day, Johnston defends SigEp. He said other fraternities get away with worse things than those for which SigEp got in trouble.

“I think it’s bullshit that SigEp got in trouble for this and got suspended for a year. Having rushed another fraternity, having hated hazing and dropped after a couple minutes of being in a hazing fraternity — I rushed SigEp, and you’re treated like a brother, and anything that happens is just in good fun. That’s why it never gets out of hand, because we never lose respect for our brothers.”

In the police report, Letteri explained kidnapping is a game SigEp plays that involves drinking alcohol.

“Someone gets kidnapped, and we have a scavenger hunt so the younger brothers will try to find the person that was kidnapped.”

Being part of SigEp since spring 2008 and also having participated in kidnapping another brother before, Letteri knew the rules of the game and why SigEp did it. SigEp doesn’t have a formal pledging system, so brothers are not necessarily initiated when they first join the fraternity.

“It’s done in an attempt to build brotherhood and leaders. That’s why we have scavenger hunts. We give them drinks, and they would say it’s horrible, and we would make it better,” said Letteri in the police report.

According to Dan Gootner, kidnapping is a SigEp custom.

“I know exactly what was done because it’s a tradition. I know what my fraternity does, and I know what other fraternities do,” he said.

Adam Ferrando, an FAU SigEp alumnus and recreational assistant for Student Activities on the Jupiter campus, claimed scavenger hunts were an activity his fraternity did.

“We never had any hazing when I was a member,” said Ferrando, “but scavenger hunts [were] something we did every year.”

Jonathon Marques, the SigEp president during the time of the suspension, could not be reached for a statement.

According to Chris Johnston, SigEp never crosses the line like other fraternities do. He explained Sigma Alpha Mu is also known to haze.

“If you ask any Sammy [Sigma Alpha Mu member], they get hoses in the ass. I know plenty of fraternity girls who dated Sammies that said they get hoses in the ass, [and] I know other fraternities that steal,” said Johnston.

Kyle Riegler, president of Sigma Alpha Mu, said that their “hazing policy is inconjunction with federal and state law, as well as The University Student Code of Conduct” and “the statement [about the hoses] is false. I have never heard of such act even after talking to alumni of our chapter.

Dan Gootner explained SigEp may kidnap their brothers, but other fraternities are doing worse things to their pledges. He claimed other fraternities make their members eat goldfish and drink until they get sick.

“Any guy who rushed had to do some shit. I have friends who dropped because they didn’t want to go through it,” said Gootner. “Pike treats you shitty. They would make everyone drink in a kiddie pool, and if they threw up, they would have to stay in the kiddie pool and keep drinking — nasty shit like that.”

He also explained Pike would call their pledges at all times of the night and force them to do things.

“Pike would make you get Gatorade for them at a gas station at 3:30 in the morning. They would wake you up and tell you that you had [to do it], just to be annoying,” said Gootner.
Steven Eissa, the internal vice president of Pike, originally spoke to the UP on the phone but told the reporter he needed the questions e-mailed to him so he could consult other members of his fraternity. His response about his fraternity’s hazing was: “That statement is not true, and I will not address rumors.”

Gootner was in SigEp for three years, and, while involved in Greek Life, he said it was common to hear about hazing incidents by word-of-mouth. According to him, Ryan O’Rourke, the Greek Life coordinator, would have heard the same rumors about hazing that everyone else heard.

“He’s always around Greeks, and the social environment is very much still there. He’s on the friendship level with all of them, and he gets that same type of word-of-mouth. I feel like he’s the only [person with authority] who would know about other fraternities, and he never really did anything in the past. It’s politics.”

O’Rourke acknowledged hazing still exists in the fraternity and sorority systems at universities all around, not just FAU.

“I think [Gootner] is accurate in saying that if there are incidents that come up, I typically am the first administrator to know, but by no means do I feel like I am the first person to know. I would be the first staff person at the university to hear about things, and then we clearly have a process in place where we start reporting it as soon as we hear it,” said O’Rourke.
O’Rourke said he did not know SigEp was hazing before the investigation started, nor did he hear about it until the end of October.

One source, who wished to remain unidentified over fear of getting in trouble for exposing hazing, said out of 13 fraternities and nine sororities on campus, at least three or four of them haze.

He also said sports teams are hazing too.

“I’ve heard rumors about the rugby team, that they jump off one of the bridges into the Intracoastal, and I’ve heard things about the football team; I know those for a fact.”
He explained that the rugby team makes new members jump off a bridge for initiation.
Teddy Chapman said the rugby team doesn’t have a hazing policy.

As the president of the rugby team for a year and a half — with his term as president having ended just last semester — he said the rumors are not true.

“I’ve never jumped off a bridge,” said Chapman, a senior business and marketing major with a minor in financing.

As far as hazing continuing to happen on campus, he said Delta Phi Epsilon, Pike, Sigma Alpha Mu and SigEp are known to do it.

O’Rourke acknowledged hazing still exists in the fraternity and sorority systems.
“My perspective is from a nationwide epidemic, and I think it’s the major issue that faces fraternities and sororities. I think the good thing about this situation happening is that it serves as a wake-up call to the other fraternities and sororities. If they do have things going on in their new-member processes that are inappropriate, then it’s time to change that. Do I think hazing exists? Sure. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes an incident like this for people to see the light,” he said.

According to O’Rourke, FAU Greek Life does not review fraternities and sororities’ new-member process, meaning FAU will always be in the dark when it comes to hazing. The only way administrators find out is when it’s reported.

“Most national fraternities and sororities provide manuals to their students, so their national office is creating their new-member processes,” said O’Rourke.

Chris Johnston said hazing will always be a factor in FAU’s Greek Life.

“No one wants to go through a fraternity process with no form of hazing at all — with no experience of a traditional fraternity.”

Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Charles Brown and Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Corey King could not be reached for comment.

This is one of the most poorly written articles I have ever read. The University Press consistently publishes articles that not only bash Florida Atlantic as a whole, but certain aspects of our school that really need support. Don't even get me started on the athletics articles… I've only been a student here for two years, but I think I've read my fair share of articles from this "newspaper" and this is definitely the worst. I know that what SigEp did is wrong and the school is using them as an example to the rest of the Greek community, but articles like this with stupid/unnecessary quotes are not needed. Also, if you claim to be a part of a "brotherhood" that does not claim to "haze", why are your alumni so open about admitting to it?
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Re: Sifting through the haze...

Can't agree more they press found dumbass alum who works for the school not to metion to spew some dumbass quotes to give them a juicy story
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Re: Sifting through the haze...

Looks like around 900 copies of the paper's issue with this article have been "stolen" from the News Papers distribution bins:

ERROR: A link was posted here (url) but it appears to be a broken link.

Police investigating theft of UP issues
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Re: Sifting through the haze...

And now the "The Juice" takes a swing:

FAU Campus in Uproar Over Hazing Allegations
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Re: Sifting through the haze...

Rick said

Looks like around 900 copies of the paper's issue with this article have been "stolen" from the News Papers distribution bins:

Police investigating theft of UP issues

Didn't something like this happen once before when Pablo Paez was school president? All the student newspapers that had an article he didn't like mysteriously disappeared

My two favorite teams are FAU, and who ever is beating FIU!
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Re: Sifting through the haze...

Case closed, and it was NOT a Sig Ep.

FAU PD announced today that they have solved the matter of the 900+ newspapers disappearance after Nicholas Cady-Jantzen, a brother in Pi Kappa Alpha, confessed to "throwing away" the issues.

Guess you can't really say it's stealing since they were free to begin with…

The UP is not going to press charges against him, but he will have to go before Dean of Students Corey King; where he will be held to disciplinary action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.

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Re: Sifting through the haze...

Not surprising that they stole it… who would want to join a fraternity if you knew the hazing was a hose in the ass?

This has been FAU's first sensational/controversial UP story in awhile since what's-his-name the SGA President stole a bunch of money through book voucher returns and was impeached from office.

P.S. I don't respond to guest posts. All guests are encouraged to register with the site.
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Re: Sifting through the haze...

owlcountry said

who would want to join a fraternity if you knew the hazing was a hose in the ass?

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Re: Sifting through the haze...

what's the point of joining a fraternity?

Advertising & Design / FAU 2006
Marketing / GEORGETOWN 2015
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Re: Sifting through the haze...

This was mine, although Service in nature:

The purpose of the fraternity is "to assemble college students in a National Service Fraternity in the fellowship of principles derived from the Scout Oath and Scout Law of the Boy Scouts of America; to develop Leadership, to promote Friendship, and to provide Service to humanity; and to further the freedom that is our national, educational, and intellectual heritage."

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