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Alleged hazing incidents reported to Penn Hills Police

The “Interim Suspension of Recognition” of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Iota Chapter has yet to be lifted by University of Pittsburgh vice provost and dean of students Kenyon R. Bonner.

Bonner placed the sorority on suspension, Feb. 28, after learning of accusations of alleged hazing by a local member or members of the sorority.

The New Pittsburgh Courier has learned that there was only one person who was alleged to have done the hazing. That person, who has not been named publicly, was not a current Pitt student at the time of the alleged incidents, and that person had previously been suspended by the sorority before the alleged incidents occurred, according to Leona Dotson, chair of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.’s International Communications Committee.

Penn Hills Police Chief Howard Burton said that early last week, 12 current Pitt students, and a mother of one of the students, walked into the department’s offices on Frankstown Rd. and reported hazing incidents that took place at a home in Penn Hills on Feb. 21 and Feb. 23. The mother told police she discovered bruises on her daughter, which prompted her to convince her daughter and the others to come forward with reporting the incidents.

Police have yet to see the bruises, and Chief Burton told reporters that some of the women did not want to discuss the situation.

“During the course of this, they were maybe hit with a paddle of some sort,” Chief Burton said. “We’ve got a lot of girls who don’t want to talk about it. If they don’t want to be victims there’s not a heck of a lot we can do with that.”

In an email sent to Greek life students at Pitt, Bonner said he was “disappointed” to hear and inform students about another “alleged incident of hazing within our fraternity and sorority community.”

Bonner continued: “This most recent incident, involving Alpha Kappa Alpha, is an opportunity for me to be clear about our zero tolerance policy for hazing at Pitt. Hazing includes any action or situation which recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student. Hazing is destructive, demeaning, and demoralizing and has no place on our campus.”

Pitt’s fraternity and sorority community had already been placed on modified social probation because of a reported incident unrelated to Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, in January.

“Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority has a zero-tolerance policy for hazing in our sorority and we take any allegations of this nature very seriously,” Dotson told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an official statement, March 2. “We were appalled to learn of hazing allegations against a suspended member who is no longer a student at the University of Pittsburgh. We believe that all existing and prospective members have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. We ensure members’ rights by disciplining those who violate Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s policies and procedures.

“We consistently educate prospective, incoming and current sorority members about behaviors that constitute hazing and the implications of such behaviors, including possible suspension and expulsion from the sorority, and criminal charges (if applicable). We also have well-publicized processes in place for sorority members to report hazing in an anonymous way. Hazing is completely unacceptable and inconsistent with the high standards of ethics and integrity to which we hold our members.

“These allegations, though extremely serious, are not representative of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority members as a whole. We remain dedicated to our mission to encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, promote unity, alleviate problems concerning girls and women and create opportunities for them to pursue higher education.”

Dotson said per organization policy, the results of the investigation will not be made public.


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