by Scott WilliamsDaily Cougar Staff
Fraternities and sororities engage in a number of activities: sports tournaments, blood drives, social events and public service activities. However, hazing, which is often associated with fraternities and sororities, is flatly against the rules at most universities. The University of Houston is no exception.
Two UH sororities, Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta, are targets of inquiry by the Dean of Students' office regarding alleged hazing activities. UHPD Lt. Helia Durant confirmed that a similar inquiry involving a UH fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, resulted in finding hazing allegations against the fraternity unsubstantiated.
The inquiries stem from alleged violations of the university's student life and hazing policies. The student handbook defines hazing as "any action taken or situation created which . . . produces . . . bodily harm or danger, mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment, fright, humiliation or ridicule, or otherwise compromises the dignity of an individual . . . (or) compels an individual to participate in any activity which is unlawful and/or contrary to the rules, policies and regulations of the university."
According to Dean of Students William Munson, each of the inquiries stems from a different point of origin. "The Alpha Phi Alpha (inquiry) was an observation of some students who had seen members of the fraternity paddling one another in front of the University Center," he said. "Delta Sigma Theta's inquiry was based on rumors, which were persistent enough that we felt the need to conduct an inquiry. Alpha Kappa Alpha -- that was a complaint from a student who was involved in a physical altercation with another student."
Delta Sigma Theta President Lesley Ayers said that her reaction to the investigation was one of "disbelief. It was so overwhelming to think this could happen."
Ayers asserted that the investigation was sparked by a complaint made by a student who belonged to another student organization, which Ayers declined to name.
"I don't condone hazing in any way," said UH graduate and former Delta Sigma Theta president Shawna Herbert. "If they're doing that, they need to stop, because this sorority is supposed to be public service oriented and hazing is not a part of that."
Herbert said that she was not aware of any hazing activities during her time at the sorority, but admitted that hazing could have occurred without her knowledge.
Durant said UHPD will investigate alleged hazing incidents if the Dean of Students' office inquiry determines that criminal conduct has occurred.
Durant added that no one has complained of hazing to UHPD, and that allegations of criminal wrongdoing by members of Alpha Phi Alpha were unsubstantiated. "We're still waiting for the inquiry's findings regarding the other two groups," Durant said.
On June 5, Assistant Dean of Students Kathy Zevino said that she anticipated the two remaining inquiries to be concluded by the end of the month. Alpha Phi Alpha President Jeramaine Netherly declined comment, referring all questions regarding the inquiry and allegations of hazing to former president Damien Faulkner, who could not be reached.