A fraternity at Clemson University is under investigation for its treatment of new members, which involved sleep deprivation, personal servitude and giving new members chemical burns, according to a letter from the school.
The school received an incident report complaining of the organization’s alleged hazing, which was first reported by Clemson’s student newspaper, The Tiger.
Alpha Gamma Rho allegedly hazed new members in the basement of the off-campus chapter house in early April, according to the letter from Kris Hodge, director of the Office of Community and Ethical Standards. The incident report accused the fraternity of line-ups, sleep deprivation, personal servitude and “some sort of ‘chemical burn’ to new members.” The direct source of the burns are unknown, according to the letter, but information suggests that it was a “salt-type” material, or a combination of materials.
“Because of the seriousness and uncertainty of the current report associated with Alpha Gamma Rho, interim suspension for the organization is necessary,” Hodge wrote.
The fraternity was told to stop all chapter business, including social activities and any meetings on or off campus until the investigation is over. Any violation of the suspension would result in more serious charges, Hodge wrote.
Former prosecutor Judy Munson was selected to investigate Alpha Gamma Rho’s hazing allegations.
Clemson’s hazing policy dictates that the investigation must be completed within 75 days of the receipt of the complaints, according to the letter, which means it is set to conclude in late June. Retaliation, the letter said, is prohibited.
Joe Galbraith, a Clemson spokesman, confirmed Alpha Gamma Rho’s suspension.
Clemson’s Interfraternity Council would not comment because of the ongoing nature of the investigation.
The State has reached out to Alpha Gamma Rho’s chapter president, Garrett Ulmer. The fraternity’s national office, located in Kansas City, Missouri, could not be reached for comment. But Rex Martin, CEO of the fraternity, told The Tiger last month that it was aware of the situation.
Clemson’s chapters of Delta Tau Delta and Pi Kappa Phi are currently suspended from campus until 2024 and 2025, respectively, for alcohol and hazing violations, according to the university’s conduct case reports.
Fraternity behavior at Clemson was scrutinized after the high-profile death of a student, Tucker Hipps, in 2014. It was one of several incidents that led to many South Carolina schools rethinking Greek life on campus. Hipps was pledging the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity when he died. Pledges had gone on an early-morning run across a bridge on S.C. 93 when Hipps went missing.
Hipps’ body was found floating in Lake Hartwell. No one has come forward with details of his death, and no one has been arrested. The case remains open. Sigma Phi Epsilon’s suspension from Clemson expired in 2019, but the fraternity did not petition to be reinstated.
Hipps’ parents claimed he was the victim of hazing and sued the university. The lawsuit was settled in 2017.
The Tucker Hipps Transparency Act was named in the student’s honor. The legislation, which was signed into South Carolina law in June 2016 by then-Gov. Nikki Haley, requires four-year public institutions to maintain public reports of misconduct by fraternity and sorority organizations.
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