ATO members suspended for alleged hazing
At least 20 members of GC’s Kappa Omega chapter of Alpha Tau Omega were suspended Thursday by Nationals after a review of hazing allegations.
The suspensions were handed down two weeks after GC sent students an Oct. 22 email reminding them of the university’s non-hazing policy and a Georgia’s law listing all behaviors de ned as hazing.
Tiffany Bayne, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, did not comment directly on the case because the university is still investigating. The Colonnade could not confirm the nature of the allegations, nor did it receive a response from Nation- als after submitting an interview request.
“We are, as it relates to that organization, we are in like fact-finding mode and working closely with our partners to do that,” Bayne said.
ATO Nationals sent out a chapter-wide email on Oct. 16 announcing a membership review. It also said that a member of Nationals would attend the chapter meeting on Oct. 22.
“They said we were going to have like a mandatory chapter, and you had to be there and if you weren’t there, you were going to get dropped,” said Blake Brower, one of the chapter’s suspended members.
Members of ATO also received an Oct. 22 email signed by Wynn Smiley, the CEO of ATO.
The email began: “I have serious concerns about the chapter culture of Kappa Omega. Repeated actions of undergraduate members have been inconsistent with ATO ideals and principles. My preference is that Kappa Omega exist as a viable and strong chapter. However, barring direct intervention the chapter’s charter is in grave danger.”
The email laid out the interviewing process and read: “Effective immediately, your membership in ATO is indefinitely suspended. . .You will be interviewing to determine if you will be asked to rejoin the chapter.”
The email also said, “Effective immediately, the Kappa Omega chapter is suspended. Suspension means that the chapter may not engage in, host, serve at, or donate time to any event or meeting that would be considered by an outside observer to be an ATO event.”
It also said that those who did not show up or sign up for an interview “will automatically forfeit your membership in ATO.” According to current ATO member Mike Muller, who plans to drop-out of the fraternity, interviews were held on Oct. 23-24. “They really just asked like you know: ‘What was the mission of education like for pledges? What you valued in ATO? Why you liked it? What you didn’t like about it?’ All that kind of stuff,” Muller said. “They were pretty basic questions honestly.”
Brower also shared the questions he was asked.
“They basically just asked about the hazing stuff,” Brower said. “They were like ‘Were you responsible with hazing. When did all these things start?’”
After the membership reviews, ATO Nationals noti ed each interviewee the status of their suspension.
The email also told those suspended: “If you so choose, you may ap- peal this decision to the Chief Executive Officer of the National Fraternity within ve business days of this notice. . .Should you choose to appeal, you must remain separated from the chapter throughout the appeal process. Your membership will be restored only if the original decision is reversed.”
The Colonnade has not yet determined how many ATOs appealed.