DeKalb and Northern Illinois University police speak in the doorway of the Pi Kappa Alpha house in DeKalb, Ill. where police were investigating the death of NIU freshman David Bogenberger, Nov. 2, 2012.
Photo by Kyle Bursaw/Daily Chronicle/APKyle Bursaw

Fraternity suspended over hazing and ‘waterboarding’ allegations


Western Carolina University has suspended its chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity after police launched an investigation into allegations of assault and waterboarding.

The university did not detail the findings of the police investigation, but in a statement released Thursday, it said that it “has suspended for a period of five years recognition of the Zeta Xi chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity following violations of the university’s Code of Student Conduct.”

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A redacted report released by university police explains that a Pi Kappa Alpha pledge contacted Brian Boyer, a residential case manager for Western Carolina University (WCU), on Feb. 27 to report the assault and hazing. The student reportedly claimed “he has been slapped in the face, and that he was ‘water boarded,’” a practice that has been widely condemned internationally as torture.

The national chapter of the fraternity notes on its website that its policies include “absolutely no hazing.”

The student reported that an initial incident occurred on Saturday, Feb. 21, when he was pledging for Pi Kappa Alpha. He apparently informed police that he was “hanging out with the Pikes, and getting to know his brothers” when a student was forced to repair a broken chair while members yelled and cursed at him. In their report, officers wrote that one of the members reportedly “stepped back and then slapped him across the cheek of the face with an open hand.”

The hazing allegedly escalated on Feb. 26, when another fraternity member took a hose from a sink, placed it in his mouth, and then informed the pledge that he was to recite the fraternity’s preamble while the water was running. When a member noticed that he was turning away from the water, he held down the pledge’s head to ensure that he would not move. 

According to the police report, the hazing continued when the pledge was placed on the floor face-up and while another fraternity member poured water into his mouth from a pan. The actions allegedly only stopped when another member noticed that he “was struggling while trying to recite the words with water being poured in his mouth, and requested that another person take his place.”

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”The Campus reaction seems to be that the university did the right thing in this situation,” university spokesperson Bill Studenc told msnbc in an email. “In addition, members of other Greek student organizations have said they appreciate the university’s response.” 

The student apparently informed police that he would not pursue charges in relation to the incidents. Pending an investigation of individual students, Western Carolina University has not yet handed down any individual charges to members of the WCU chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha. The university told msnbc that both the pledge and other fraternity members still attend the school. 

Both the local chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha and the national organization did not respond to msnbc’s multiple requests for comment.