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New allegations could be last straw for UA fraternity
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New allegations could be last straw for UA fraternity

A University of Arizona fraternity is in trouble again after a headline-making incident last year, this time accused of enabling underage drinking and causing physical harm to new members.

The local chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon — the same one accused of drugging “Jackass” star Johnny Knoxville  last fall — should learn in a few weeks whether the UA will shut it down or allow it to remain on campus.

The initial investigation showed the fraternity hazed new members by making them clean the frat house, subjecting them to humiliation, and by causing “physical harm to new members resulting in welts and bruising,” said Chrissy Lieberman,  an associate dean of students.

The chapter — which claims to have a “dry” or alcohol-free fraternity house — also is accused of holding “multiple unregistered events that provided alcohol to minors,” Lieberman said.

UA officials became so concerned for the welfare of the chapter’s new members that they recently ordered them to stay away from the fraternity house during the investigation, Lieberman said.

The fraternity’s national headquarters also is investigating, she said.

The national headquarters could not be reached for comment Thursday. Neither could UA student Jake Webb, listed as chapter president on the fraternity’s website.

The chapter, established at UA in 1917, already was on what Lieberman called “a short leash” after last year’s claim by Knoxville that someone dosed his drink with Ecstasy during a video shoot at a frat house party.

The chapter denied the drugging claim and the UA found no evidence to support it. But the fraternity still was punished because it was on probation for past misconduct when the unauthorized party took place.

The chapter has been in trouble repeatedly for drunkenness, hazing, student endangerment and other misconduct since 2009, UA’s online disciplinary records show.

Nationally, the fraternity’s Illinois-based headquarters has closed a dozen or so chapters in recent years, including some where students died during or after unauthorized events.

The organization’s insurance premiums have soared as a result, prompting the national office to recently ban the practice of “pledging,” in which new members were required to perform acts of loyalty before being formally admitted.

The UA has been aggressive in recent years about rooting out fraternities that are chronic troublemakers.

Since 2012, five chapters have been shut down for repeated misconduct.

Contact the reporter at calaimo@tucson.com or 573-4138.


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