Theta Delt faces hazing charges

by Kate Lyon | 11/10/04 6:00am

Hanover Police Department officials are currently investigating allegations that members of Theta Delta Chi fraternity hazed new members of Delta Delta Delta sorority as part of a pledge activity gone awry.

The College received allegations of misconduct involving Tri-Delt pledges at Theta Delt a few weeks ago, said Senior Associate Dean of the College Dan Nelson. Upon investigation, the College uncovered additional information that suggested a possible breach of New Hampshire's hazing statute, put its own inquiry on hold and notified police as required under state law on Thursday.

The College declined to reveal the source of its original information, but Tri-Delt members said an anonymous caller tipped off Dartmouth officials.

Members of both Greek organizations remained tight-lipped about the details of the incident and the ongoing investigation, but the little information they provided to The Dartmouth and the College indicated that the fraternity and sorority disagree on who is to blame.

According to Theta Delt president Matt Nicholson '05, Tri-Delt members required their pledges to perform an "interpretive dance" along to a CD they provided to a Theta Delt member.

Despite widespread rumors that Theta Delt members coerced the Tri-Delt pledges into performing lap dances until the men became sexually aroused, Nicholson said all dancing took place standing up and that the eight or so fraternity members involved were only following directions from Tri-Delt.

The sorority, however, is not currently under investigation for the incident.

Hanover Police Chief Nicholas Giaccone said it was too early in the police investigation to determine whether the Tri-Delt pledges were sexually harassed.

Nicholson, emphasizing that his fraternity does not condone hazing in any form, said Theta Delt did not sanction the incident.

"In no way was any executive member of the fraternity contacted by anyone in Tri-Delt about having their members visit our physical plant that evening," said Nicholson. "Additionally, there were members of other organizations present, therefore the participants on the night in question were not strictly Theta Delt brothers," he added.

Tri-Delt president Megan Escherich '05 said she was unable to provide the sorority's version of the events.

"I don't feel it's appropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation," Escherich said.

The Office of Residential Life sent a Nov. 5 mailing to parents and students affiliated with Tri-Delt and Theta Delt informing them that New Hampshire state law prohibits organizations from performing acts that would "be perceived by a reasonable person to cause physical or psychological injury." The letter went on to say that the "reported behavior did not concern physical harm."

The mailing also included copies of the College's hazing policy and the New Hampshire hazing statute.

Incidents defined as hazing under the New Hampshire hazing statute are prosecuted as misdemeanors. The crime carries a fine of up to $2,000 and/or one year in jail.

Tri-Delt's national executive board has sent a representative to campus to handle all dealings with the College and local officials. The organization held a meeting Sunday evening to emphasize the need for members to keep information confidential.

Tri-Delt member Colleen Harrison '05 said even the sorority's members continue to remain in the dark about the event's details.

"They won't even tell us what happened," she said.

Tri-Delt's national organization has a zero-tolerance policy toward hazing in its chapters, said Meredith Mark, director of the sorority's Chapter Services office.

"Should the allegations be substantiated, Tri-Delta will take appropriate disciplinary action," Mark said.

Dartmouth holds organizations accountable for allegations made against them via the Organizational Adjudication Committee. The committee reviews the case information to determine possible violations and then decides possible consequences. Nelson added that at this time the College's investigation is on hold until the police investigation is complete.