GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Another Florida college is making headlines for hazing, and this time it's a fraternity at the University of Florida that's in the hot seat.
The fraternity in question is Alpha Phi Alpha. It is a fraternity which, unlike most other fraternities at UF, does not have a house or building of its own.
David Kratzer, the UF Vice President of Student Affairs, said an investigation started as soon as school officials were made aware of the hazing allegations.
"We do something called an interim suspension which means the organization is stopped from doing anything," said Kratzer. This prevents them from holding meetings or operating as an organization until the university can work the investigation and find out the truth.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.'s executive director William Kyle released a statement late Wednesday afternoon:
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has received a communication from the University of Florida regarding an
alleged hazing incident. We have issued a Cease and Desist order to our local chapter and will commence an
investigation of the allegation. We will cooperate with law enforcement in our effort to bring to justice those
who may have violated the law.
Alpha Phi Alpha continues to aggressively confront the issue of hazing. We recognize that hazing is a persistent
social scourge that has proven time and time again to be difficult to eradicate and too dangerous to tolerate.
Alpha Phi Alpha does not condone hazing!
Alpha Phi Alpha has embraced programs, which provide leadership tools to recognize, prevent and address
hazing. We have provided our members with scholarship incentives to encourage their intellectual growth. We
have worked tirelessly to provide career options and to inspire our members to be high achievers. Our goal is
to work with campus leaders to ensure that our communities are promoting the values and mission of our
organizations. The mission of Alpha Phi Alpha is to develop leaders, promote brotherhood and academic
excellence, while providing service and advocacy for our communities. If any member of Alpha Phi Alpha is
found to engage in conduct inconsistent with our mission, that member will be dealt with firmly.
We cannot say this enough: HAZING IS DANGEROUS and ILLEGAL and must STOP! Alpha Phi Alpha has no place
in its membership for the violence and brutality that accompanies hazing. HAZING IS ILLEGAL!
University of Florida Police will not say how many victims there are or how many students are involved in the alleged hazing incidents. There could be more than one victim or more than one incident. The time frame investigators are looking at is between January 9 and February 4. Police said "individuals" alerted them to the situation on Saturday.
Police said they are also looking into incidents that may have happened both on and off the UF campus.
According to an e-mail the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Affairs sent out to all Greek members at the university, Alpha Phi Alpha, an off-campus fraternity, is being investigated for alleged hazing:
Members of the Florida Greek Community,
Many of you are aware of the email that was sent to all UF students today from President Machen describing allegations of hazing in one of our fraternities. Because this is an open investigation at this time, we cannot share much information with our community. We will tell you that the fraternity facing allegations is Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. The University of Florida has placed the chapter on an Interim Suspension pending the outcome of a formal hearing. Alpha Phi Alpha has been a strong member of the Florida Greek Community for many years. While we are all disappointed to learn of such allegations, we all need to respectfully allow our Greek Conduct process to take place before making decisions or speculations of the fraternity's responsibility in this matter. We will share information with the community as and when that is appropriate.
President Machen reminded all students that hazing is strictly prohibited at the University of Florida and against state law. Let us continue to live by the values on which we were all founded. Greeks know that hazing has no place among those values and within our chapters. As always, if you have questions, comments or concerns regarding hazing, or in general, please contact the Sorority & Fraternity Affairs staff at 352-392-1671. Our Florida Greek Community has many reasons to be proud; please continue to represent yourself and your chapter with integrity and we will continue to go far.
Sorority & Fraternity Affairs Staff
University President Bernie Machen also emailed students about the incident:
As president of the University of Florida, one of my most important responsibilities is to maintain a safe and supportive university environment. So it is with great concern that I write to you today regarding what we believe was a recent and serious physical hazing incident off campus by a UF fraternity.
The incident is currently under investigation by the UF Police, with the assistance of the Division of Student Affairs. As that investigation proceeds, I want to reinforce the university's prohibition against all forms of hazing - and ask each of you to help us guard against this dangerous and destructive behavior.
Hazing is specifically prohibited by UF regulations, and it is also classified as a crime in Florida. We cannot tolerate hazing on our campus or in our university community, and anyone found responsible will face the gravest possible consequences, including expulsion and criminal penalties.
The secretive nature of hazing can make it challenging to detect and prevent. As a result, it is important for any student who is a victim of hazing, or who learns of any abusive or dangerous conduct toward others, to step forward. If you have experienced hazing or know of any such behavior, I urge you to contact UF Police at 392-1111, the Office of the Dean of Students at 392-1261, or the Office of Student Activities and Involvement at 392-1671.
At UF, we are committed to maintaining a university community in which all students have the opportunity to learn and thrive without concern for their safety or well-being. Hazing undermines that core commitment. I thank each of you for your assistance in ensuring that our university remains secure, warm and nurturing for all.
Still, University of Florida freshman Edward Kingston is looking forward to joining a fraternity, despite the stories he's heard about hazing.
"You know it happens if you go to the University of Florida," said Kingston.
He's rushing now, and he said before he started, the university gave him a solid background on what to do if he gets hazed.
"It's an hour and a half meeting, and it takes a long time to sit through," Kingston described.
Other fraternity members we spoke with Tuesday night said they already know how serious the university takes hazing. It can get you expelled and have serious criminal consequences.
"You cannot cause harm. You cannot mean harm. You have to treat them as individuals," explained fraternity member Andrew Schultz.
First Coast News