UC Davis chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi to operate independently of the university after registration revoked due to hazing

UC Davis chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi to operate independently of the university after registration revoked due to hazing

Photo Credits: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Fraternity raises concerns about “lack of due process” in disciplinary process

The Davis chapter of the Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity has decided to operate independently of the university as of this school year, said Noah Stark, president of Davis AEPi, in an email statement last week. 

AEPi’s registration was revoked in Spring Quarter 2020 due to incidents of hazing, Kristen Dees, director of the Center for Student Involvement (CSI), said via email. The revocation will last until 2025, and AEPi is no longer listed as a chapter on the UC Davis Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life website.

In her email, Dees said that UC Davis recommends students refrain from joining organizations with revoked or closed registration. 

AEPi has since been told to cease their operations at UC Davis, Dees added.

The news, which was also posted on the fraternity’s Instagram, comes after a record number of UC Davis fraternities—Sigma Mu Delta, Delta Sigma Pi and Zeta Psi—had their registration revoked for five years due to hazing incidents in February 2020.

The hazing in those three revoked organizations, described by anonymous sources, included physical punishments like push-ups, planking and consuming “unknown [concoctions] of mixed drinks” as punishment for failing to memorize or recite certain items. One pledge referred to the “physical and mental strain” of the rushing process. 

In the article, an executive board member from one of the fraternities complained about a lack of transparency in OSSJA’s investigative process, while acknowledging that they understood why the identities of those making allegations would be kept confidential. 

Another pledge said they did not think they had committed any acts of misconduct, since pledges can “drop out [of the process] at any time they want” and were already aware of what it would be like. 

At the time that the February article went to print, AEPi had not yet had its registration revoked, but was being investigated by OSSJA, as were the fraternities Theta Tau and Sigma Lambda Beta. Stark declined to comment on the contents of the article. 

“Our multiple, wrongful dealings with OSSJA [Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs] affirm that there are improper safeguards to protect student organizations – as we plead to OSSJA Director and Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs in appeal – and that a lack of due process and inadequate bias training has permeated throughout the school’s judicial body resulting in partisan results to the detriment of minority communities, Greek communities and student communities at large,” wrote Stark on behalf of the fraternity. 

He also described OSSJA’s investigations as “unscrupulous” and asserted that AEPi was “wrongfully punished.” 

AEPi’s statement said that OSSJA’s disciplinary actions mimicked a national trend of Greek organizations “being subject to uneven as well as unjust penal bodies,” adding that fraternities and sororities’ right to operate independently of universities had been legally upheld by the “highest court in the land.” 

Freedom of association—first recognized in a 1958 U.S. Supreme Court Case which struck down an Alabama law requiring the release of a list of NAACP members—continues to be affirmed in judicial decisions in the United States, and is largely viewed as an extension of First Amendment rights.

The statement also highlighted the precautions that AEPi is taking during COVID-19, in accordance with university regulations. 

It suggested that UC Davis assist students and community members in fighting the disease rather than “brazenly [choosing to allocate] time and money towards persecuting Greek life.” 

“As always, we will continue building the next generation of Jewish leaders, which is and has been our foremost goal – and is more vital now than ever,” the statement said.

Written by: Rebecca Binh-Wallace — campus@theaggie.org