CONWAY -- The University of Central Arkansas has suspended the Kappa Sigma fraternity for one year for hazing.
The decision followed earlier findings this fall that the fraternity had allowed excessive drinking and had offered a "Blackout of the Week" award.
Based on student accounts, the hazing involved actions such as throwing or spraying cold water on pledges; requiring physical workouts; confining pledges to a fraternity house's living room all day and all night except for work and classes, and blocking off the house's other areas; alleged intimidation to make pledges carry certain items with them at all times; and the demeaning of blindfolded pledges.
The students' accounts, summarized by a UCA official in one of numerous records obtained under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, varied considerably. Some called the actions voluntary; others were harsher.
One said he thought he had seen "a potential sexual assault" by another fraternity member "with a woman who looked like she wasn't able to give consent."
"Student2 told Student1 about this and Student1 encouraged him to report it," said the report that was sent to Dean of Students Kelly Owens on Nov. 8. "Student2 said that he would not and that some older members told him to keep quiet until initiation."
Drew Davis, the chapter's alumni adviser, said Wednesday that the fraternity did not appeal the decision. He apologized for the problems and said the national organization likely will remove 10 members from the 76-member UCA chapter.
"We're doing what we can to get the ones who are causing the problems out," Davis said.
Kappa Sigma Hazing Investigation ReportView
UCA notified the fraternity chapter's president of the yearlong suspension on Nov. 16 and said it would be followed by one year of probation, ending in January 2021.
The fraternity previously had been notified that it was on "social suspension" through May because of the alcohol-related allegations. That Oct. 31 notification said the suspension meant the chapter could not host social events, including intramurals, parties, tailgates and formals. The fraternity is to have no campus activities during the longer, full suspension.
In an earlier letter to a fraternity representative, Owens said the university had received information that members had "been involved in dangerous behavior regarding the consumption of alcohol. Specifically, there is a video that has surfaced indicating that your chapter participates in 'awarding' excessive drinking with a 'Blackout of the Week' certificate. This type of behavior endangers the health or well-being of Kappa Sigma members."
In a Nov. 12 letter to a fraternity member whose name was redacted, Owens said information regarding the alleged sexual assault had been given to the university's Title IX coordinator for investigation.
UCA spokesman Amanda Hoelzman said in an email interview that police did not investigate the assault allegation. "Any person who alleges that they've been assaulted has the option to file an official police report. In this case, no report was filed, so there was no investigation," she said.
Asked about the Title IX findings, Hoelzman said, "Title IX investigations are protected under the Federal Education Rights Privacy Act. But, generally, students are advised of all the resources available to them during the Title IX investigation process, including the ability to file a police report. In this case, no report was filed."
Davis said he is "embarrassed" that the fraternity now has a negative image.
"It's unfortunate when the public hears something about a fraternity. In general, this is what you hear, sexual assault and hazing," he said.
Kappa Sigma has also "been a force for good," he said, citing its charitable fundraising.
"We're sorry. This isn't what we stand for. This isn't what fraternities stand for," Davis said.
State Desk on 12/16/2018