Loyola University Chicago has temporarily suspended its sorority chapter Alpha Sigma Alpha (ASA) while the university investigates for possible misconduct, including hazing, according to an email obtained by The PHOENIX.
The email, sent by director of the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Jeff Gardner to ASA members, said the university has been made aware of recent behaviors “that may constitute a violation of the University’s policies regarding hazing, harassment, and bullying.” Along with violating Loyola’s community standards, hazing is against Illinois law.
ASA had a previous probation — which was in place for an unknown amount of time — lifted in spring 2017.
In a separate email sent to The Phoenix, Gardner said multiple reports of misconduct were submitted Feb. 15 to a program called EthicsLine, which Loyola uses for anonymous complaints against university members. Gardner said at least one report came from a member of ASA, but the rest of the reports were anonymous. Nine reports were filed against ASA but have yet to be substantiated, according to Gardner.
As of now, the social sorority is prohibited from “all organizational business and activities regardless of location (on-or off-campus).”
The Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSCCR) is conducting the investigation, according to the email sent to the ASA community. Members of ASA were encouraged to share information with university officials through OSCCR or Student Activities and Greek Affairs (SAGA).
That email also warned of the consequences of “retaliation,” meaning actions taken by the group or its members against someone who may have reported an incident.
The restriction is said to be an “interim measure only,” and doesn’t necessarily mean the organization is fully responsible for the reported violations.
The investigation of the sorority has began, Gardner wrote to The Phoenix, but he didn’t specify how long it’s expected to last. The investigation process consists of interviews with several members of ASA, Gardner said.
“It is too soon to tell what an appropriate response should look like,” Gardner said. “The University’s goal will be to identify any areas of concern, work with the chapter as much as possible to remedy any substantiated violations (if applicable), and ensure that the chapter can proceed in a safe manner.”
Angela Taylor, director of SAGA, said Loyola has several programs in place to deter students from participating in hazing, including a course from HazingPrevention.org called Prevent.Zone, which was added to SAGA’s anti-hazing efforts fall 2017. The program will be required for all student organizations beginning fall 2018.
Taylor also said sororities and fraternities were active in hazing prevention during National Hazing Prevention Week in September 2017. All members of sororities and fraternities are required to sign a form agreeing to Loyola’s hazing policy, as well as Illinois state law.
“In total, we provide hazing prevention education for students so they can be proactive in combatting this issue, but also so that they are poised to step up, step in and report when appropriate,” Taylor said in an email to The Phoenix.
It’s unclear how long the suspension will last. Sororities and fraternities have been suspended from Loyola for similar behavior in the past, most recently the Alpha Kappa Psi (AKPsi) coed business fraternity and the Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) social fraternity. Both were suspended in 2017; the suspension of AKPsi is set to end in 2019 and the suspension of SAE is set to end in 2020.
This is the third fraternity/sorority chapter to face suspension from campus in just under a year.
Laney Miller, a sophomore international studies major, is currently rushing for service-based fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. Miller, 20, said she thinks the hazing prevention measures can be helpful, but are unlikely to stop the behavior altogether.
“Loyola’s put a lot of restrictions on Greek Life already and this is still happening,” Miller said. “I don’t think [prevention programs] will eradicate the problem completely, but I think it might help. I think it’s a good precaution to take.”
Sophomore Anna Rozner is a member of Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) and said Greek Life has been a positive experience for her so far. The 19-year-old film and digital media major said she was surprised by the allegations against ASA as she hasn’t heard of negative experiences from others in Greek Life.
“I had never heard negative things about another sorority so it was just surprising,” Rozner said.
In her experience with the sorority, Rozner said the leaders of AXO have been vocal about hazing prevention.
“Our e-board makes it a mission to go over what hazing is and what can be considered hazing and just basically reinforce that we aren’t gonna do that and anyone who does do that … there’s gonna be consequences,” Rozner said.
The national headquarters of ASA didn’t return requests for comment from The Phoenix at the time of publication, and multiple members of Loyola’s ASA chapter also declined to comment.