Durham, NC – An anonymous group is threatening to release information about hazing at Duke University if the administration continues ignoring its claims.
A letter signed by a group dubbing itself “Concerned Black Students” accuses Duke Student Affairs of turning a blind eye to annual hazing practiced within historically Black fraternities and sororities at the school, according to The Herald-Sun. The students sent the strongly–worded letter to student affairs VP Larry Moneta and other university leaders Wednesday, Nov. 15, criticizing them for their “willful ignorance and complicity in the annual abuse of Black students.”
“National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) organizations at Duke have had a long history of using mental, physical and emotional abuse as part of their pledging processes,” the letter read. “Not only is this abuse illegal, but it infringes on prohibitions on hazing set to protect all students at this university and contradicts everything we hold dear as an institution.”
The group alleged that the University has tried to sweep instances of hazing within these organizations under the rug for too long, and demanded that it instead begin sanctioning organizations that participate in the violent initiations of African-American pledges. There are currently eight NPHC fraternities and sororities on the campus.
“If action is not taken, we are prepared to bring forth specific information on the practices of these organizations and the methods in which the University attempts to cover it up,” the letter continued. “We urge the Duke Administration to further investigate this matter seriously and intentionally.”
Moneta quickly responded to the student’s claims, calling them untrue. He maintained that Duke has always taken incidents of hazing seriously and held organizations accountable.
“Nothing has changed and nothing will change,” Moneta told campus newspaper The Chronicle, which first reported the accusations. “I regret that whomever you are, you felt need to use this communications method and have taken the position that Duke would rather hide evidence of hazing than take quick and decisive action.”
Michael Ivory Jr., president of Duke’s Black Student Alliance, took to the organization’s Facebook page this week to make clear that he took the students’ concerns very seriously. In a statement, he wrote that the BSA “adamantly and wholeheartedly” condemns hazing.
“Hazing is a dangerous practice which calls into question the mental, physical, and emotional welfare of Black students,” Ivory added. “… It has no place in a community that envisions its members experiencing and leaving this campus as healthy and whole people. If we will address the notions of trauma as it relates to Black identity honestly and productively, then this must be part of what we examine and handle.”
In a separate email to The Chronicle, Concerned Black Students alleged that covert hazing had occurred in several NPHC fraternities and sororities at Duke, including Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., which recently unveiled its newest members. The group also noted that Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was allegedly under investigation. The organization later refuted those claims.
The accusations come amid a string of hazing deaths involving white pledges at other big-name universities across the country. So far, officials at Texas State University, Florida State University and Louisiana State University have suspended Greek life activities after the deaths of new fraternity members.
Concerned Black Students is hoping to end the annual hazing practices to ensure Duke University pledges don’t meet this same fate.
“Our peers our suffering,” the group wrote. “Our community is suffering. Our university is suffering, and we’re all complicit.”
Photo courtesy of duke.edu