Phi Kappa Psi fraternity faces three-year suspension

President Ken Ruscio extends the Interfraternity Council’s suspension

On March 11, President Ken Ruscio suspended Phi Kappa Psi fraternity from Washington and Lee’s campus for three years, double the amount of time the Interfraternity Council had decided upon.

Public Safety’s investigation of Phi Kappa Psi, which was prompted by an anonymous online hazing report, found that a member of the fraternity used a stun gun on a new member to intimidate other members.

In an email sent to the W&L community that same day, Ruscio expressed disappointment in the fraternity.

“I agree with the IFC’s conclusion that a serious violation occurred – a violation that, if left unresolved, threatens not only the integrity of the fraternity system but also of the University itself,” Ruscio said in the email.

The IFC did not comment on Ruscio’s decision.

According to Ruscio’s email, the IFC said it does not believe that this incident shows a “pervasive flaw within fraternity culture” when making its decision.

The email originally stated that the student used a Taser, a product that fires two small electrodes to deliver electrical currents that disrupt muscle control. The email was later changed to say stun gun.

Students living in the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house have until March 22 to move out.

Students who were members of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity did not comment. They were advised by Phi Kappa Psi Nationals to direct questions to the national organization.

Chad Stegemiller, the assistant executive director of Phi Kappa Psi Nationals, said in a press release that the organization agrees with Ruscio’s suspension and that they have suspended the charter of W&L’s chapter of Phi Kappa Psi.

“The Fraternity will seek to return to the campus when it has regained the confidence of the administration and student body that Phi Kappa Psi can be a responsible and trusted member of the campus community,” Stegemiller said in the press release.

According to Brian Eckert, executive director of W&L’s Communication and Public Affairs, Phi Kappa Psi Nationals expressed reservations to the university about “the workability of a shorter one and half year period.”

Phi Kappa Psi has been suspended at other universities in recent months for unrelated circumstances, according to Stegemiller.

The press release says the organization offers educational programs to address hazing, programs that Stegemiller said “didn’t hit home with some individuals.”

The last suspension of a fraternity from W&L’s campus was Sigma Alpha Epsilon in January 2014. SAE was suspended for three years after one student died and multiple were injured in a single car accident coming back from a fraternity-sponsored party off campus. The driver was 22-year-old Nicholas Hansel, a former SAE member and W&L student.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Bucky Joyce says W&L complied with Virginia law by reporting the hazing incident to him.

Joyce said he would only proceed with charges if the victim of the incident wanted to, which there is no indication of at this time.