The ACACIA house is located at 36 E. State St. in uptown Athens.

Note: This story appears in the Friday, Oct. 4 newspaper on Page A1.

Ohio University has suspended 15 fraternities on campus amid a widespread investigation into Greek Life hazing.

The suspension was announced Thursday in a letter from Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones to the various chapter presidents. The decision, made by Hall-Jones and Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Pina, comes just a week before OU is set to celebrate Homecoming.

Involved are all 15 Interfraternity Council chapters at OU. Earlier this week, the university sent cease and desist notices to two fraternities — ACACIA and Alpha Epsilon Pi — after having received allegations the groups had engaged in conduct that put students’ health and safety “at risk.” The university mandated these chapters not engage in any organizational activities and that members not communicate with one another.

OU reported having since received hazing allegations involving five other unnamed fraternity chapters. The university plans to send cease and desist notices to these five as well.

In light of initiating these seven investigations into possible violations of the Student Code of Conduct, OU decided to place a temporary suspension on all 15 chapters on campus. The remaining eight are not under official investigation, but the university is still banning (for the time being) all groups from hosting member events, meetings, social activities and “organized participation in Homecoming.”

Furthermore, members of these 15 groups cannot participate in any other non-suspended Greek organization’s activities, or they may face further penalties.

The Dean of Students letter called this a “proactive step” so that the Interfraternity Council community “can pause to reflect and create actionable strategies for the future.”

“To ensure the future of fraternity life on our campus, innovative practices will need to redefine our Greek community so that it positivity contributes to the full well-being of students,” the letter continues.

Hall-Jones, the Dean of Students, added that anyone who has been subjected to or has witnessed hazing can report it on the OU website’s Student Affairs page.

Just a week ago, the university had created a Hazing Prevention Task Force “to better understand the scope” of the problem.

Judson Horras, president and CEO of the North American Interfraternity Conference, criticized OU’s decision to suspend all of the IFC fraternities instead of just those who had been accused of wrongdoing.

“Hazing is a serious societal issue, and we strongly believe in holding individuals accountable,” Horras said in a provided statement. “However, Ohio University’s suspension that impacts students not accused of misconduct is not the right approach to address this critical issue.”

Horras said OU should “bring all parties to the table to seek a path forward that places the highest priority on the health and safety of students, while respecting the rights of those that live up to the standards of fraternal excellence.”

This suspension comes five months after OU permanently expelled the Sigma Pi Epsilon chapter for having committed numerous hazing and misconduct violations during the fall 2018 semester. During that semester, an 18-year-old OU student died at a Mill Street house alleged to have been an unofficial annex of the fraternity.

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