A former Hofstra University fraternity that had its charter revoked and was suspended by the school earlier this year faces public allegations of hazing of its pledges in a story published by the student newspaper.
The Hofstra Chronicle report Tuesday described alleged hazing and included pictures of a blindfolded male kneeling with a swastika behind him. Other photos showed an apparent pledge confined to what appears to be a small dog crate and three others lying on a floor covered in flour.
“The university condemns the incidents depicted in the photos and reported in the story and has commenced an immediate investigation,” a Hofstra statement said Wednesday. “In addition, the university has also reached out to the Nassau County Police Department for their support and investigation of any potentially criminal behavior.”
The statement was sent to the university community and was signed by Hofstra’s vice president for student affairs, W. Houston Dougharty.
Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun, a Nassau police spokesman, said Wednesday night that no alleged victim has come forward. “At this point, there is no active investigation because there is no complainant,” he said in a statement. “If one does come forward to report this incident, we will commence an investigation.”
Hofstra said hazing is a violation of the law and university regulations.
“The safety and health of Hofstra students is our highest priority and in recent years we have redoubled our efforts to educate all members of student organizations about the zero-tolerance stance that Hofstra has for any mistreatment of or harm to students, including any acts that could be considered hazing,” the university said.
The Chronicle quoted Syed Ali John Mehdi, a former student and member of Sigma Pi’s spring 2015 Beta-Alpha class, as a whistleblower who said students were subjected to abuse in the fall 2014, spring 2015 and fall 2015 pledge processes.
Mehdi could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
In the statement, Hofstra officials said that in March, the university received notice that the Grand Council of Sigma Pi Fraternity International had revoked the charter of the Eta-Gamma Chapter at Hofstra University for unspecified violations. The university suspended the chapter and requested more information from the Grand Council, which declined to provide it.
The university said that Student Affairs had investigated the allegations and had questioned several members of the chapter, who denied any wrongdoing.
Before the suspension, there had been no complaints of hazing against the organization in recent years, the university said.
Sigma Pi Fraternity International’s executive director Jason Walker, in a statement emailed Wednesday, said: “We are appalled by the abhorrent behavior concerning our former chapter at Hofstra University. Upon receiving information from a person who asked to remain anonymous, Sigma Pi Fraternity International immediately revoked the chapter’s charter.
“Through a combination of education, policy, and accountability at all levels, Sigma Pi remains committed to eliminating hazing and discrimination.”