Towson University student hospitalized, fraternity suspended after alleged hazing

A Towson University student was hospitalized after an alleged hazing incident last week.

Towson University and Baltimore County police are investigating an alleged fraternity hazing incident that left a student hospitalized and the fraternity suspended.

Police and university officials declined to name the student or offer more details of the alleged hazing. University spokesman Ray Feldmann said the student has been hospitalized since last Thursday night.

The incident was reported to have happened off campus, Feldmann said.

"Towson University takes any allegation of hazing very seriously and deals with it swiftly," he said in an email. "Our hazing policy is very clear: Hazing is against the law and is strictly prohibited at Towson University."

The national office of Tau Kappa Epsilon said it has suspended its Towson chapter and is investigating.

When a TKE chapter is suspended, spokesman Alex Baker said, its members cannot hold events or otherwise operate as a chapter.

"Tau Kappa Epsilon does not condone hazing in any form," Baker said. "These alleged actions do not align with our values of love, charity, and esteem. We have temporarily suspended the Pi-Upsilon chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon. We are fully cooperating with the university and police investigations. If these allegations are found to be true, we will address the allegation swiftly and with appropriate action."

The University of Maryland revoked the charter of the TKE chapter at College Park last month, the student newspaper reported. The decision, made in conjunction with the national fraternity and local alumni, followed "hazing and risk-management violations," the Diamondback reported.

The chapter had been on probation for three years, the Diamondback reported. Now it cannot be reinstated until 2020, or until all current undergraduate members have graduated — whichever is longest.

That chapter was put on probation and ordered to pay $3,500 in restitution in 2011 after a fire alarm panel was ripped out of a wall, according to documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

Hazing in Maryland is a misdemeanor with a $500 fine. Efforts by legislators in 2014 to increase the fine were unsuccessful. But charges are rare; a 2014 review by The Sun found dozens of alleged hazing incidents, some involving violence and leading to hospitalizations, in which charges were not filed.

Four Greek organizations at Towson have been sanctioned for "prohibited conduct" in the last three years according to the university. Three were suspended.

Delta Sigma Phi fraternity was charged by the university on Oct. 19, 2015, with violations related to underage drinking. Its suspension on campus lasts through the fall 2017 semester, the university says on its "Fraternity and Sorority Life" Web page.

Lambda Chi Alpha was charged on Oct. 31, 2014, with "endangering conduct that imperils or jeopardizes the health and safety of any person or persons, including oneself."

It was also charged with violating "published institutional regulations and policies" regulating social events, and rules relating to underage drinking. The chapter was suspended through the fall 2016 semester.

The Delta Sigma Theta sorority was suspended through the fall 2015 semester by the university, and by the sorority's national office until the fall 2018 semester, "for multiple violations".

Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity received the mildest penalty: It was censured on Oct. 3, 2015, for "having an unregistered party."

cwells@baltsun.com

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