CONWAY, Ark. — The University of Central Arkansas has suspended a fraternity chapter for three years over allegations that pledges were beaten if they did not know answers to questions about the history of the Alpha Phi Alpha organization.
CONWAY, Ark. — The University of Central Arkansas has suspended a fraternity chapter for three years over allegations that pledges were beaten if they did not know answers to questions about the history of the Alpha Phi Alpha organization. A student judicial board recommended the suspension, which was equal to a penalty reached by the national fraternity that was handed down earlier. Police are conducting a separate investigation. Some fraternity pledges told investigators they were struck if they answered incorrectly to questions about how the fraternity developed. Dean of Students Gary Roberts says the Theta Phi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha has been a solid organization, which he said makes the suspension "difficult and disappointing." "They have done a wonderful job in doing service for the UCA community and the Conway community," he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "Their groups do well academically … but obviously there was a behavioral issue here." While the basis for the three-year suspension was the national fraternity’s action, Roberts said, "This was a fairly serious case." UCA police said four of six Theta Psi pledges said hazing included strikes on the buttocks with a paddle and strikes with an open hand on the chest and back. After the suspension ends, the chapter must hold an anti-hazing program each semester. The student board also recommended adding two sanctions beyond those of the national fraternity, both of which the chapter appealed unsuccessfully to the University Discipline Committee. Under these measures, the Theta Psi chapter will be on probation one academic year after it is re-established at UCA. During this time, the chapter must attend all programs sponsored by the Office of Greek Life or face returning to the judicial board. Further, UCA said, "All students and advisers found to be responsible in the hazing allegations will not be permitted to serve in an advisory capacity at UCA." Ronnie Williams, UCA vice president for student services, made the decision to accept the recommendations of the judicial board and the committee. The UCA Greek Judicial Board, which includes between nine to 12 fraternity and sorority members, conducted a private disciplinary hearing April 21. The panel found the fraternity had violated the school’s anti-hazing policy. The UCA chapter of the fraternity dates to December 1973. Nationally, the fraternity was formed Dec. 4, 1906, at Cornell University as the first Black Greek-letter organization on a college campus, according to UCA’s Web site. The national fraternity became interracial in 1945. Notable members have included the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, baseball star Jackie Robinson, former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippen and jazz musician Duke Ellington. ______ Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.