UPDATE: May 2, 3:26 p.m.
Thomas McAninch, the national director of communication for TKE, was able to confirm international’s visit to AU to investigate hazing. However, he did not yet know the results of the investigation.
“We interviewed everyone, talked about the things that were being alleged, tried to figure out exactly what the situation was,” McAninch said.
McAninch stressed that TKE takes all hazing allegations very seriously. Even if a claim isn’t true, TKE tries to make all members of the fraternity understand that TKE exists to be open and accepting to everyone that wants to join, he said.
“It could be the simplest thing, it could be the most severe thing,” McAninch said. “We want to make sure that our environment that we’re providing at that campus is one that’s going to make someone better than he already is.”
Four members of Tau Kappa Epsilon formally disaffiliated from the fraternity since last semester because they disagreed with the fraternity’s alleged hazing practices, according to an anonymous disaffiliate.
The fraternity has witnessed an increase in disaffiliation over the past few years because of disagreements over the pledge process and how “no one gets along well in the frat,” according to the source.
“It’s big, about 10 percent of our members have left,” the disaffiliate said. “And it isn’t just because of the pledge process, but also because there are so many problems between members.”
One member of TKE was recently kicked out of the group because the brother required pledges in late March to eat an entire onion. The group’s rules prohibit hazing. The member did not fulfill the punishments required and was voted out of the group, the source said.
Philip Seggio, president of TKE, said there has not been any hazing in the fraternity and that the organization is stronger than ever.
However, TKE also had a national intervention in late March, where they were told they needed to make and confirm a new hazing-free pledge process with nationals or they could lose their charter, according to the source.
Curtis Burrill, coordinator of fraternity and sorority life at AU, serves as an advisor to TKE but was unable to comment on TKE’s situation and could not confirm the national intervention by the time of print. However, he explained that he has less power than nationals.
“Since they are members of the same organization they can do things that the University couldn’t do and challenge groups based on their ritual and values in a deeper way,” Burrill said.
TKE national headquarters did not respond to requests for comment in time for press.
AU’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu is under investigations for hazing. The national organization is currently reviewing the AU chapter’s practices, Sigma Alpha Mu President Nick Mandalakas said.
“These are problems other fraternities are facing as well, though ours are much less severe,” the source said. “I think things will get better, especially with TKE remaking its pledge process without hazing, and other frats are having more problems because they are less transparent.”
Staff writer Rebecca Zisser and Zach C. Cohen contributed to this report.