When I took over as the News Editor for KnightNews.com I was excited at the possibilities I would have to better my campus. I also knew that there would be stories that would be tough to cover.
On Nov. 9, it happened. I received a report that an IFC fraternity was placed on “emergency suspension”. My stomach turned at the thought of what could have happened that prompted UCF to take such drastic action. In fact, one of the last times a UCF fraternity was placed under emergency suspension was when Sigma Alpha Epsilon was caught hazing their pledges red-handed by UCF Police. Following that, SAE was kicked off campus for four years.
Emergency suspensions are justified in a situation like SAE vs. in a situation like now, where they were caught red-handed, but it is unacceptable to take such extreme action based on just hearsay.
Alpha Tau Omega was placed on emergency suspension due to an anonymous e-mail sent to anti-hazing speaker David Stollman, claiming that “brothers were beating them while they had to recite their fraternity’s creed”. I was even more concerned when after this fraternity was placed under emergency suspension, there was no police action. Then it dawned on me, it was an anonymous e-mail, meaning anyone could have sent it, so the police didn’t have enough evidence or reasoning to investigate as they did in the SAE hazing scandal.
So why did UCF feel the need to place ATO on an “emergency suspension” without any concrete evidence or due process?
We don’t know the answer to that, but we do know that it was the longest emergency suspension they could enact on the organization. Ten business days before they have their first hearing on Nov.20. Ten business days for rumors to swirl, ten business days for allegations to be blown out of proportion, ultimately making the organization as a whole look bad.
Due to such a long suspension, Alpha Tau Omega may not be able to hold Rock the Wreath, one of the highest grossing and largest philanthropies at UCF. They have brought the likes of Shwayze, Big Sean, and Gym Class Heroes to our campus. In 2011, they raised over 11,000 dollars for the Children’s Miracle Network.
Instead of respecting the integrity of the organization, UCF is putting full force on ATO based off an anonymous tip.
We’ve seen this game all too many times within the past five years and quite frankly, I’m sick of it. Delta Upsilon had a phony “roofie” scandal that was blown out of proportion to the point that at the time, DU’s nationals gutted the chapter at the allegations.
Beta Theta Pi was accused of rape, one of the more serious crimes anyone can be convicted of. UCF again placed harsh punishment against them before any concrete evidence or due process, very similar to the ATO allegations we are dealing with now. Beta took legal action against UCF. The result? UCF backed down and settled the lawsuit by reducing Beta’s punishment before a real judge–one that is bound by the constitution–had a chance to throw out the conviction from UCF’s “Kangaroo Court”.
See a trend?
These heinous accusations are being made against these fraternities almost on a yearly basis, and accusations is all they are. It is not easy to recover from such serious matters even if they aren’t true, and UCF needs to respect the organization before such drastic measures are taken.
KnightNews.com takes an allegation such as hazing seriously, but we have to ask ourselves, when is enough, enough?
At what point is UCF trampling the rights of the accused, before they have a chance to defend themselves? Anyone remember innocent until proven guilty?
You may have no interest in this story because it is not your organization. You may have no interest because you are not Greek at all. But what we all are is UCF students, and at some point this witch hunt needs to stop, because your organization may be next. Whether you are involved in Greek Life, not involved, or dislike Greek Life, we all need to respect this organization to let it have it’s due process before it is blown out of proportion more than it already is.