KU alters policies on hazing after problems

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas has refined its hazing policies after problems including an incident where a student was paralyzed.

The university put its chapter of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity on two years of probation after an investigation revealed hazing occurred at the fraternity's annual island party in September. Kansas freshman Matt Fritzie was left paralyzed after diving into a makeshift pool at that party.

The university has also been considering sanctions for its Interfraternity Council, a student leadership group whose mission includes promoting the Greek community. A university report found council members committed hazing violations by paddling one another, according to the Lawrence Journal-World.

Hazing cases now will be handled by the university's new student conduct officer, Nick Kehrwald. Hazing investigations were previously handled by assistant vice provosts in the office of the vice provost for student success.

Jane Tuttle, assistant vice provost for student success, said hazing investigations shouldn't be about pointing fingers, but should focus on getting everyone to be part of the solution.

"I don't think that KU's any different than any other school," she said. "But I think that there's work to be done."

Kehrwald, who has a law degree, said students should notice a more proactive approach. Having a full-time staffer devoted to all kinds of nonacademic misconduct will allow for more outreach and educational opportunities, he said.

Kehrwald said he'll visit a variety of groups inside and outside the Greek system. Hazing can happen wherever groups exist, he said — in athletics, in fraternities and in the band.

An anti-hazing task force has been convened at Kansas and met twice so far, said Aaron Dollinger, chief of staff for the university's student senate. He serves on the task force.

Dollinger said the task force and the university are trying to foster a culture where people understand what is and isn't hazing and feel comfortable reporting it.

"It's not brotherhood when someone hits you with a paddle, and it's not brotherhood when someone forces you to drink," he said. "And it's OK to come forward when these things happen."