Sorority sanctioned for hazing

The UTSA chapter of Phi Mu (Epsilon Sigma) has been found in violation of the Student Code of Conduct for engaging in hazing, withholding material information from the university and interfering with the university’s investigation of charges against them.

The chapter has been placed on disciplinary probation until April 1, 2011.

In an April 8, 2010, letter to Phi Mu, Dr. Kevin Price, dean of students, said that during a chapter retreat new members were separated from the initiated members, blindfolded and left in a barn for approximately two hours in 50-degree weather. Phi Mu’s initiated members led new members around the barn by a rope and asked them to imitate monkeys and lions.

Price wrote that Phi Mu’s actions were in violation of the Student Code of Conduct, section 202.A. Specifically, Price maintains that the sorority was “engaging in, or encouraging, aiding, or assisting any other person to engage in, any act that is commonly known and recognized as hazing.” The sorority’s actions led to a university investigation.

According to the letter, “The organization failed to report hazing activities and the planning of hazing activities to the dean of students or designee. Initiated members advised new members to not to be fully forthcoming during the university’s investigation. Members, including officers, interfered with the university’s investigations by instructing new members waiting to speak with university officials that they did not need to cooperate.”

Price wrote, “… particularly troubling in this case was the level of initial interference by the chapter in the investigation being conducted by the university.”

Freshman Phi Mu pledge Kayla Argo said that pledges felt that they were joining a sisterhood. “We need to respect our letters,” Argo said.

The sorority has the option to appeal.

Student opinion on the case is split. Emmanuel Roldan, a communication major, believes that if he were an officer “in Phi Mu, I would want to protect my self interests by telling the pledges ‘you don’t have to do this.'”

On one hand, it seems like they are trying to protect themselves,” Roldan continued, “but on the other hand it is their right to not (cooperate).”

Kim Cortopassi, a freshman health major, believes the treatment of new recruits is “cruel.” Cortopassi, who is not involved in any sorority, believes that “if you join a sorority, the point is that you want to be accepted by something, someone, or by a group of people. They tell you ‘do this and you’ll be accepted,’ so of course they’re going to do it because they want to be accepted.” As to why she herself was not in a sorority, Cortopassi simply doesn’t see the point of them. “I don’t really see the point of them. I mean, I can make friends on my own.”