UC Irvine’s chapter of Phi Kappa Psi was cleared as of last Monday of undisclosed charges, concluding a four-month internal investigation of the fraternity which began in Oct. 2015 after their brief suspension.
UCI’s Office of Student Conduct declined to comment on whether the now-closed investigation was linked to an ongoing UCI Police Department (UCIPD) investigation into a charge of “hazing resulting in death or serious bodily injuring.” Phi Kappa Psi’s initial suspension was enacted just over two weeks before the reported hazing incident was officially filed by the UCIPD.
On Oct. 16, UCI’s chapter of Phi Kappa Psi was suspended, but only briefly; on Oct. 23, the fraternity was reinstated as a member of UCI’s Interfraternity Council (IFC). The subsequent investigation into Phi Kappa Psi by the Office of Student Conduct was closed as of Monday, Jan. 4, according to IFC President Spencer Rasmus Jensen on behalf of a representative from the fraternity chapter.
Both IFC President Jensen and UC Irvine’s Dean of Students Rameen Talesh said in Nov. 2015 that they could not comment on Phi Kappa Psi’s suspension until the investigation was closed. Neither Jensen nor Talesh responded after Jan. 4 to comment on the unknown charges against Phi Kappa Psi, which were allegedly cleared.
Jensen mentioned that Phi Kappa Psi “had an executive board transition” in the midst of the interim suspension and investigation, and that the previous and current president are “deciding how they want this to be handled.”
The fraternity was officially suspended on Friday of fall quarter’s week three. According to Phi Kappa Psi’s Facebook page, their Rush Week began just three weeks prior to their suspension.
According to UCI Phi Kappa Psi’s website, “The Greek rush process begins Zero Week when all UCI Greek Fraternities will be [sic] take part in an on-campus event in Aldrich Park followed by their first rush events later that night. This night marks the beginning of the formal evaluation of rushees in order to best decide who will receive a bid to join a Fraternity.”
Further into the website, the fraternity states that their rush policy “is in accordance with UCI and IFC regulations.”
According to UCI’s Policies Applying to Campus Activities, Organizations and Students, the 27 grounds for Office of Student Conduct discipline include: academic misconduct, theft or damage of University property, physical abuse, harassment and hazing, among other acts.
If suspected of violating UCI policy, organizations begin the Student Conduct process. They are first encouraged to attend an administrative meeting, during which a Student Conduct Officer may assess their case.
“The Student Conduct Officer may choose to take no action if it is determined that the initial report lacks information, is unsupported based on new information or falls outside the purview of the University of California Policies Applying to Campus Activities, Organizations, and Students,” per UCI policy.
On Nov. 3, two weeks after Phi Kappa Psi’s suspension, the UCIPD filed a charge of “hazing resulting in death or serious bodily injury.” The charge filed by UCIPD, listed with an unknown date, time and location of occurrence, is pending.
The veracity and severity of the alleged “death or serious bodily injury” is currently undetermined. The case, #15-1646, is listed as pending, which denotes that the investigation is currently “active” and “requires additional follow-up or requires some action to be taken by the officer or detective.”
According to UCIPD’s Detective Lieutenant Joe Reiss, “[The case] isn’t something that happened recently, it actually happened a little while back, some time ago. That’s why the time and location [are listed as unknown].”
Reiss says that cases appearing on the campus police logs are recorded after being reported to the UCIPD from outside sources; nobody needs to have been charged or arrested for reports to be filed and an investigation to be opened.
The UCIPD has been working in tandem with UCI’s Office of Student Conduct throughout the investigation.
“The Office of Student Conduct didn’t originally report this to us; this is something we’ve been in contact with them about so they’re in the loop,” Reiss says.
According to the Education and Penal Code of the State of California, hazing is “any method of initiation or pre-initiation into a student organization or student body, whether or not the organization or body is officially recognized by an educational institution, which is likely to cause serious bodily injury to any former, current, or prospective student of any school, community college, college, university, or other educational institution in this state.”
At time of publication, it remains unclear whether the instances are related, and on what grounds Phi Kappa Psi was suspended and investigated.