USF suspends fraternity for hazing

A complaint of hazing incidents involving the Omega Psi Phi fraternity chapter at USF is currently under investigation by the Tampa Police Department (TPD).

TPD issued a media alert Monday night to confirm that officers responded to a complaint that was reported Friday at 3 p.m. The alleged incidents occurred Aug. 22 and Aug. 23 at 11:30 p.m. at 2112 W. Busch Blvd. in Tampa.

The alert states that “detectives began interviewing potential victims, witnesses and suspects over the weekend. That process is ongoing. None of the suspects are current University of South Florida students.”

The TPD alert additionally stated that “the investigation is anticipated to take several more days.”

USF President Judy Genshaft issued an e-mail Monday to faculty and staff addressing the suspension of the fraternity and to “remind all members of (the) community that hazing is illegal.”

“As soon (as) we became aware of the allegations, USF took the severest possible action. The chapter was suspended, and the national fraternity was notified to begin its investigation,” she said in the e-mail. “Unfortunately, this group held a secret off-campus meeting and violated the standards and policies of not only our university, but the rights of our students.”

Lara Wade, university spokeswoman, said that when a fraternity is suspended it means that it is no longer “recognized on campus,” and it “can’t operate in capacity at USF.”

“The off-campus meeting wasn’t an approved activity by USF officials,” Wade said. “Until the investigation is finished, we won’t know if the fraternity will be disbanded.”

All fraternity and sorority leaders received an e-mail from Dean for Students Kevin Banks and Associate Dean for Students Regina Hyatt, stating that “the University of South Florida takes these reports very seriously, and we have been working diligently since the time of the reports to provide support for those impacted by this incident. The organization and the persons allegedly responsible for perpetrating the hazing are under investigation and will be appropriately held responsible for their actions.”

According to the University’s Code of Policies, Florida State Law, and Regulations, hazing is defined as “any action or situation that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for purposes including, but not limited to, initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization, regardless of person’s willingness to participate.”

TPD could not be reached for comment. Patrick Romero-Aldaz, director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, and a representative for the Omega Psi Phi national fraternity declined to comment.