TKE placed on two-year probation following hazing allegations

Molly Smith

Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) was placed on a two-year probation period in March after senior Dan Hart approached Dean of Students Chuck Cleveland with allegations of hazing that occurred during the 2010 TKE initiation.

Although Cleveland could not comment on the specifics of the probation, he stated that the TKE Chapter Advisor will be closely involved during next spring’s initiation events. According to Cleveland, the advisor is a Walla Walla resident who was formerly employed by TKE Nationals.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a Greek organization on formal probation. We felt that this was necessary because of the report that we had several years ago, so we wanted a little stronger oversight,” said Cleveland, referring to similar allegations of hazing that a former TKE pledge brought to Associate Dean of Students and Greek Advisor Barbara Maxwell in 2007.

“If you look among the scale of continuum of things that have occurred nationally, while [the TKEs’ actions] were unacceptable and they constituted hazing, there was no drugs or alcohol involved. Some of these are things that the guys just simply viewed as traditions and rituals, and what may have been acceptable 20 years ago is not acceptable now,” said Cleveland.

According to Hart, the probation period was originally proposed to be four years, but was then decreased to two years.

“I don’t understand the politics behind that [decision], and I tried to get an answer about it but was not given a direct answer. Not only am I disappointed in the two-year probation, I’m also disappointed that it went from four years to two years. I don’t think it’s a good thing; two years is not enough time to change tradition,” said Hart.

Cleveland declined to comment on Hart’s contention that the probationary period was shortened, stating that the TKEs “need to correct those things that caused the problems, and that’s what we’re asking them to do. They need to demonstrate to the college that they have made the correction.”

Cleveland noted that the probationary period can be extended beyond the two years at administrative discretion. Nevertheless he is optimistic that TKE can resolve this issue in the two-year probationary period.

“I have every confidence that the problems can be corrected. [The TKEs] were forthcoming … and they were very cooperative,” he said.

Hart, however, remains doubtful.

“I think it may curb [hazing] but I don’t know if the hazing aspect of  initiation will end. I don’t think the two-year probation is strong  enough and I don’t think there’s enough true discussion about it on  campus,” he said. “We need the facts about this and  we need to stop making this secret. When a TKE active told me, ‘You  just don’t know what happened,’ then why don’t you tell me? Only then  can we have an honest discussion about this.”