A fraternity at the University of Louisville has been suspended and is under investigation for “hazing” after asking pledges to serve as designated drivers, according to local Wave 3 News.
Louisville’s student code of conduct bars fraternities from having pledges engage in any behavior that is “dangerous, demeaning, or ridiculing,” or which “recklessly or intentionally endanger[s] physical or mental health.” It would seem that the school’s chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) helping to keep drunk drivers off the road would hardly qualify as dangerous behavior, but some school authorities think otherwise.
The suspension is notable as presumably a large majority of prospective TKE are not even old enough to legally drink.
Using designated drivers isn’t the only odious behavior TKE is accused of. According to the school, pledges were asked to carry around red pledge notebooks wherever they went. Also, pictures on the chapter’s web site show some members having stripped off their shirts and died their chests red in order to cheer on the school’s sports teams, though it’s unclear if this activity was even limited to pledges.
Meanwhile, allegations of more traditional hazing are entirely absent. The house isn’t accused of any physical violence, and administrators haven’t even accused the brothers of making a pledge drink so much as a single beer.
According to WAVE, Louisville Dean of Students Michael Mardis has acknowledged that many people won’t view these activities as genuine hazing. However, he said it was important to be tough.
“It’s more about taking a pro-active stance,” Mardis said. He added that there was an “expectation” that new members had to engage in these practices.
“There was this environment, this expectation that you’re required to do these things,” said Mardis. “And if you don’t do those things you might not be able to become a member.” Mardis stopped short, however, of actually claiming that members who declined certain activities were excluded from the frat.
TKE’s suspension is currently only interim, while the school completes an investigation. However, if found guilty of hazing, the fraternity could face penalties lasting years or may even be derecognized.
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