Sacramento State is investigating an anonymous tip — from a self-described “member of Greek life” — that an on-campus fraternity participated in a possible hazing ritual three years ago.
The tip was in an email sent Jan. 26 to Sacramento State’s Interim Chief of Staff Cely Smart, which was first reported by The State Hornet. The email said Delta Chi fraternity participants simulated an “elephant walk,” which is described in the letter as “a form of known hazing in fraternities.”
The hazing practice usually requires members to walk naked in a single-file line while holding the genitals of the person behind them. The email included a picture allegedly of the local Delta Chi chapter’s simulation. The picture shows four men in shorts and T-shirts holding objects in front of their crotches.
“The fraternity has not been suspended from any activities at this time,” said Anita Fitzhugh, the university’s public information officer, in an email to The Bee. “It has been determined that the picture is over 3 years old ... (and) both Delta Chi’s campus chapter as well as its national organization are cooperating fully with the investigation.”
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Beth Lesen, the associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, told The State Hornet the school is working to determine whether the incident can be categorized as hazing.
“In general, sanctions for substantiated cases of hazing span a wide spectrum including educational sanctions aimed at helping insure that organizations operate appropriately and suspensions of varying lengths of time, when necessary,” Lesen said in an email to The Bee. “Suspensions can be for a semester or years, depending on the severity and level of pervasiveness of the incident and the record of the organization.”
Hazing has been illegal throughout California since 2006. According to California penal code 245.6, “‘Hazing’ means any method of initiation or preinitiation into a student organization or student body, whether or not the organization or body is officially recognized by an educational institution, which is likely to cause serious bodily injury to any former, current, or prospective student of any school, community college, college, university, or other educational institution in this state.”
When further asked about the investigation by The Bee, Fitzhugh included a university statement in an email: “As part of its commitment to the safety of its campus community, Sacramento State has absolutely no tolerance for hazing, and every allegation is thoroughly investigated.
“All campus Greek life organizations receive extensive hazing prevention training, and any student who suspects an act of hazing has occurred is encouraged to report the incident immediately to Student Organizations and Leadership at (916) 278-6595.”
A call to the Delta Chi phone number listed on the fraternity’s local website was answered by a man who said he was the former treasurer. He declined to comment on the investigation and said to call the fraternity’s headquarters in Iowa. A call to Delta Chi International Headquarters after business hours was not answered.