KU shuts down fraternity after investigation finds evidence of hazing and ‘open culture of illegal drug use’

photo by: Lauren Fox

The Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house, 1505 Sigma Nu Place, is pictured on Nov. 13, 2020.

The University of Kansas will terminate the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity chapter at the end of the semester after an investigation found evidence of hazing, harming new members and an open culture of illegal drug use.

A Nov. 4 letter from the university’s vice provost for student affairs informed the chapter that its status as a registered organization on campus would end on Nov. 25 and that the earliest it could rejoin as a student organization would be in the spring of 2026. The letter states that members of the fraternity violated the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities by engaging in hazing behaviors during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years.

“Hazing in campus fraternities has a long and sordid history. Too often these activities and behavior are excused as ‘tradition’ or ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘all in good fun,” Vice Provost for Student Affairs Tammara Durham wrote.

In order to break the cycle, Durham continued, the organization must “reset” without the current members and leaders who were part of the problematic culture.

Nearly two full pages of Durham’s letter to the fraternity were redacted — the parts that specifically list examples of the problematic behavior. In an email to the Journal-World from the university’s Office of the General Counsel, Jennifer Kellogg wrote that portions of the requested record were redacted because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which “prohibits the University from releasing individually identifiable student records without their written permission.”

photo by: University of Kansas

A large portion of the vice provost for student affairs’ letter to the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity chapter at the University of Kansas was heavily redacted.

Portions of the letter that were not redacted said that the fraternity was found responsible for causing physical harm or endangering the health and safety of another person, as well as for hazing another person for the purpose of initiation, admission or affiliation with a university-sanctioned organization.

“Due to the active members participating in these hazing behaviors and the participation and knowledge of Pi Kappa Phi chapter leadership in these behaviors, the hearing panel determined, and I agree, the behaviors were pervasive within the organization and conducted with the full knowledge of the organization,” Durham wrote.

The letter also said that while the hearing panel that evaluated the fraternity was not tasked with reviewing violations other than hazing, it was apparent from messages viewed on a GroupMe chat that the fraternity has an “open culture of illegal drug use … including solicitation of illegal drugs and, in one case, apparent coercion for a pledge to engage in illegal drug use.”

Durham said the apparent drug activity within the chapter “exacerbates” the hazing charges and was another consideration in the closing of the chapter.

According to a Nov. 12 article from The University Daily Kansan, KU’s student newspaper, members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity hung an explicit banner from the roof of their fraternity house the day after Durham’s letter was sent that said “(Expletive deleted) IFC.” IFC stands for the Interfraternity Council, the organization that serves as the representative government for all chapters at KU.

The Pi Kappa Phi chapter on KU’s campus has existed since 2000, according to the fraternity’s website.

“The men of this fraternity are held to a high standard in the areas of leadership and scholarship, and the vision of Pi Kappa Phi is as follows: A future where every active member of Pi Kappa Phi embraces his role as a leader, puts service before self, and improves the world around him,” the website states.

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