Officials examine alleged hazing

By Jami Peterson

A hazing investigation of an NIU sorority this week has ended with no substantial proof, but an anonymous letter accusing the sorority of violent hazing practices has fueled the investigation.

Michelle Emmett, director of University Programming and Activities, began investigating the Delta Sigma Theta public service sorority Monday after someone claimed to have been told by another person that she saw the sorority practice hazing.

Emmett said she interviewed most of the girls considered for membership and the new members in the sorority and looked for signs of physical abuse and found no evidence of hazing. “(The sorority members) are absolutely, vehemently denying there is any hazing going on,” she said.

The Student Judicial Code defines hazing as an act by an organization or member of that organization which could cause or create a risk to one’s physical or mental health.

Emmett received an anonymous letter Wednesday, however, which could affect her decision to close the case.

The letter also was sent to The Northern Star, the Judicial Office, the sorority’s national and regional headquarters, NIU President John La Tourette and Barbara Henley, vice president for Student Affairs.

The letter accused the sorority of giving its members “bruised backs and scratches on arms, legs and faces,” and practicing verbal hazing. “Some people were told to squat, sit on the floor in their business attire and quack like ducks,” the letter stated. “It’s been known that the sorority has made individuals clean their dormitory rooms or apartments and wash dishes.”

Emmett said the accusations in the letter shadow the statements made by the person who initiated the investigation. “These are not new allegations,” she said.

The letter also listed names of candidates for membership in the sorority, including one who the letter states, “was physically and mentally abused so as a result, she withdrew herself.” Emmett said she plans to call this former candidate and set up an interview.

Delta Sigma Theta President Deanna Hall said she believes the letter is an attempt to get revenge by a disgruntled candidate who was not accepted in the sorority. “Everything we did was on the up and up,” she said. “I don’t understand where they’re getting their information.”

The letter was not sent until candidates received their rejection notices, she said. “If you felt you were being harassed, you could have easily walked out (during rush) and reported it,” she said.

Hall said she would not risk her future to practice hazing, and the sorority’s watchdog headquarters and UP&A would know if something was going on. “Too many people are looking over our backs,” she said. “We have too many checks and balances.”

Hall said the sorority will not alter its policies because of the accusations. “Nobody’s worried because all of the accusations are lies.”

The sorority, which had five members before rush, does have stringent entrance policies, she said. “You have to go through a training process,” she said. “We just don’t take anyone. They must meet requirements that are outstanding.”

Hall would not go into the details of the training or the number of candidates who were rejected, however.

The letter claims the sorority had 35 candidates and accepted 10, but Hall strongly said the sorority did not have that many candidates.

Student Judicial Office Director Larry Bolles said his office does not get involved unless a student comes in and signs a complaint. He did say he has been concerned with hazing at NIU for the past three years. “I’ve seen far too many people doing it.”