Sigma Delta Tau suspended amid pledging concerns
All photos courtesy of an anonymous former member.
The Gamma Gamma chapter of Sigma Delta Tau (SDT) at Hofstra University was temporarily suspended on March 9, 2018, due to allegations brought to Public Safety that sparked an investigation into the sorority. These allegations were brought to the attention of Public Safety by a former SDT member – who disaffiliated after about 11 months in the organization – in response to the new member education process.
In her statement, the student listed a number of violations that she argued do not uphold SDT’s national policies, Office of Student Leadership and Engagement (OSLE) guidelines or Hofstra’s community standards. The student alleged a multitude of hazing activities including drug and alcohol violations, physical abuse and psychological scare tactics.
Hofstra defines hazing as “… any action taken or situation created, intentionally, whether on or off fraternity premises, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule.”
The former member provided The Chronicle evidence of activities that she said qualify as hazing under Article VIII of the Constitution of the Panhellenic Association of Hofstra University. Before their initiation on March 29, 2017, the former member said the girls were instructed to endure a “hell night” during which they could not sleep from 1- 8 a.m. She provided documentation of the text messages they were allegedly required to send every hour. The messages contained greetings to senior and new member educators that included current and past positions, their pledge class and their trees. Each message was to be unique so as to make sure they could not simply copy and paste the same message each hour, according to the former member. She provided a screenshot of a message from her fellow pledge member saying, “I mean like the staying up all night shit was just unnecessary.” Listed as a form of hazing under Article VIII is, “… the creation of excessive fatigue.”
Additionally, before they were initiated, on March 13, 2017, the girls were taken off campus to a house on Maple Avenue where they were allegedly told they’d be watching a TV show together. In her statement that she provided to Public Safety, she explained that unbeknownst to them, the gathering was intended to be a questioning meeting. The former member provided The Chronicle with 124 slides of information about pledges that she says they were told to memorize.
She said the girls were lined up and questioned about the information they were expected to memorize. If they answered incorrectly, the former member said they were screamed at and berated, leaving at least four girls in tears including herself.
The former member provided evidence of a message posted by the then-current assistant new member educator, also a sister, in an SDT group chat confirming that the pledges had been at “maple [Avenue] for the bachelor finale.” The assistant new member educator continued, “… when you guys were getting half hazed/ questioned or whatever, i was on the kitchen floor of maple doing snow angels because I was so fucked up.”
The former member said the whole sorority sat across the room and laughed at the pledges while they were questioned. She said in her statement, “After that, they tried to put on the Bachelor [sic] finale to make us happy but I could not stop crying. I just wished so much to leave that house, but since it was off campus, I had to wait until my ride was leaving.”
The evidence she provided shows that the new pledge class was also taken off campus on the night of their initiation, March 29. The former member provided messages from members of her pledge class which said, “Tbt on our last night when they put the shirts over our head in Lawrence basement I freaked out.”
The former member said that the girls were later instructed by the senior sisters to strip. In their group chat, another member recalled the alleged incident, writing, “at least u didn’t take ur shirt off.”
In her report the former member details this incident saying, “One of the scariest times of the night was when we heard a doorbell and they told us it was the Pike [Pi Kappa Alpha] new members coming. They said, ‘they knew how much we lovd to hang out with boys’ so they called them over so we could all go streaking (run naked) with them outside. We all looked at them in disbelief when they said this and then they said, ‘start stripping.’” According to her statement, it wasn’t until one member began to remove her shirt that they stopped her and “found a manipulative way to turn it on her about why she took her clothes off ...”
She said that some girls in her pledge class wanted this type of hazing to continue, supporting her statement with evidence of a message from a girl in her class who said, “That’s what I mean I want them [the new pledge class] to get hazed so they bond.” Another message from a different member of the same class said, “if they don’t get what we did they’re gonna think they can just do whatever tf [the fuck] they want … the new pledge class is gonna be ass if they don’t get some bad shit.”
Prior to initiation, the former member said, “Whenever they wanted any food or alcohol, we had to get it for them and deliver it wherever they asked. This would be paid for with our own personal money and we would not be reimbursed.” She provided evidence of such a request from one of her senior sisters who requested a pizza, a Caesar salad and an order of garlic knots on March 28, the day before initiation. In a screenshot of a message from a group chat with her member class, one girl said, “not extreme hazing just like what we used to do maybe a little less like take out the stuff where we had to buy them alcohol every night and drop it off lol.”
In her statement, the former member said that many members of the sorority, including executive board (e-board) members, do drugs at events such as formal which is why she doesn’t personally attend. She provided a screenshot of a message sent on Nov. 5, 2017, from an e-board member saying in an SDT group chat, “Do all the cocaine you want to but don’t be stupid or have your date be stupid and do it infront of everyone lol.”
The former member said that members of SDT drink alcohol on school property at Greek Life functions. She provided photos of members of SDT holding alcoholic drinks in the parking lot behind C.V. Starr.
The former member provided evidence of SDT affiliating with non-recognized organizations which she explained is strictly forbidden by the university. She provided a photo depicting SDT members standing in the house of Delta Sigma Phi (DSP), an unrecognized organization circa October 2008. Additionally, in a screenshot of a group chat titled “SDT Spring 2018 Events & Info” the former president said, “Mixer tonight with DSP.” Also pictured were members of SDT wearing their letters in front of a wall with Sigma Pi letters.
In her statement, the former member said SDT has a history of wanting to push out unwanted members based on appearances, and they aired intentions to do so in evidence provided by the former member.
The Chronicle reached out to the National Office of SDT about the allegations, and SDT’s Executive Director Debbie Snyder said, “We are aware that our chapter [at Hofstra] has been temporarily suspended due to a concern regarding the new member education program. The matter is currently under investigation and we cannot comment during this process.”
An email attributed to the Division of Student Affairs said, “Any time there is a complaint about a student organization we investigate, and during that investigation that organization may be placed on temporary suspension. During an investigation, organization meetings, activities, and new member education processes are suspended. We take all concerns brought to our attention from students very seriously.”
All of the comments provided by the former SDT member in this article came from a written statement she gave to The Chronicle.
The Chronicle reached out to the Gamma Gamma chapter of SDT, Public Safety and OSLE for comment. The Chronicle was informed that none of the three are allowed to comment because the investigation is ongoing.