The Lehigh University Police Department increased the number of officers on duty this weekend in response to nine anonymous reports of hazing within the Greek community, LUPD chief Edward Shupp said.
Shupp said officers were not ordered to purposefully bust fraternity houses. Instead, he said LUPD received orders to be a visible presence on campus to deter crime.
Nine reports of hazing is high for this time of year, Shupp said. Since the reports are anonymous, it provides a challenge for LUPD. An anonymous report on one fraternity must be treated as a possible report on every fraternity.
“We’re not miracle workers,” Shupp said. “I can’t do anything if I don’t know what house you’re talking about. I don’t want to go into 22 different houses and accuse people because I don’t have probable cause to do so.”
In an email sent out to the university Tuesday night, provost and vice provost of Student Affairs Pat Farrell and Ian Birky said “reports that Greek chapters are being ‘raided,’ or that students are being ‘lined up and forced to submit to breathalyzer tests’ are also not true.”
Shupp said many of these reports came from a Lehigh parents’ page on Facebook.
“What bothers me are the rumors,” Shupp said. “When I’m looking at this parents’ page, I don’t know how their sons or daughters could even tell their parents some of these things.”
Shupp said one post on the page claimed LUPD officers were standing outside residence halls and lining up 40 students to perform preliminary breath tests, or PBTs. Shupp said the 150 cameras, as well as the body cameras each LUPD officer wears, can discredit the legitimacy of these statements.
On two occasions this weekend, Shupp said LUPD swiped into fraternity houses. He said the officers had probable cause for both entrances.
In one case, Shupp said a security guard observed fraternity members playing drinking games inside their chapter house, which is against university policy. No citations were issued.
In the case of Kappa Alpha, Shupp said members were throwing glass beer bottles off the second floor of their house. When LUPD responded, the men fled into the house, giving the officers probable cause to enter in after them.
Four members of Kappa Alpha involved in the incident were breathalyzed. Only one was issued a citation for disorderly conduct, according to the Lehigh crime log.
Similar to swiping into Greek houses, Shupp said officers only breathalyze students if they have probable cause to do so, which can range from students stumbling down the street to an odor on their breath. Refusing to take a PBT will result in a citation.
Shupp said in many cases, students can benefit from a PBT “as long as it’s a low reading and the person is not a danger to themselves or others.” He said if the test reads around .02 or .03, the student won’t receive a citation. If students refuse to take the test and officers are unsure of their blood alcohol contents, Shupp said they are more likely to be transported to the hospital.
In addition to the nine hazing reports, Ashley Baudouin, the assistant dean and director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, wrote in an email there have been more than 60 fraternity- and sorority-related incidents, which can include everything from fire alarms, noise complaints, public urination, hazing reports, social policy violations and alcohol transports. She said the volume of incidents is up in general.
On Feb. 17, the IFC executive board met with Baudouin, the assistant dean and director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs and Corey Grant, the assistant director of OFSA and the IFC adviser.
At this meeting, Mark DiMaggio, ’17, vice president of IFC, said Baudouin and Grant informed the IFC executive board that six to eight fraternities were under investigation for hazing allegations, national infractions and other conduct issues. DiMaggio said Baudouin had been fielding concerns from President John Simon, dean of students Chris Mulvihill and the board of trustees in addition to the parent concerns.
Baudouin warned IFC there would be increased police force on and off campus, and OFSA would be looking into any allegations of hazing.
“What (Baudouin) made aware to us was that if our actions and our behavior continued, there would perhaps at some point be a suspension of IFC fraternities in general,” DiMaggio said.
After the meeting, the IFC executive board sent an email out to fraternity presidents and intended for the email to be shared with all general members. In it, they encouraged all fraternities to reevaluate their new member education programs to make sure their programs aligned with the university code of conduct and their fraternity’s national values.
Although only two fraternities are currently suspended by the school — Delta Chi and Sigma Phi Epsilon — DiMaggio said the possibility of suspending all IFC fraternities is not off the table.
“How we’re treating it as an executive board, along with presidents, is that it could happen at any moment, and that’s not just particular to this moment in time,” DiMaggio said. “That could happen next semester or two semesters from now. So what’s most important to us right now is that we address the current problems that we’re facing and that’s clearly right now new member education, hazing and conduct with our new members.”
Shupp agreed with the primary message of Farrell’s email that the university’s main goal is to keep students safe.
“Someone just died at Penn State,” Shupp said. “They’re not going to die on my watch. I’ll do what I need to do to make sure it’s a safe environment, and I hope students would respect that.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the two chapters that have been suspended by the university. A previous version stated Chi Phi was placed on suspension by Lehigh. Instead, the fraternity’s new member activities were temporarily suspended by the Chi Phi National Office. Additionally, information and clarification provided by Ashley Baudouin has been included in the article.