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SUNY Canton fraternity suspended after alleged hazing

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CANTON — SUNY Canton’s Zeta Alpha Phi fraternity and many of its members have been placed on suspension after an alleged hazing incident.

The incident reportedly occurred off campus last week. The college learned about it Monday, after a student reported the hazing to officials.

The college and village police are investigating the fraternity, and criminal charges against some of the participating students are expected, according to Courtney B. Bish, the college’s dean of students.

The Canton police officer in charge of the investigation could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The college will not discuss specific details of the incident until the investigation is complete, but according to Ms. Bish, the fraternity committed acts of “physical and mental abuse” against a student trying to join.

“I am disgusted and appalled by the alleged actions of some of the members of Zeta Alpha Phi,” SUNY Canton acting President Joseph C. Hoffman said in a press release. “Their actions certainly do not reflect the overall conduct of our students or the rest of the college’s Greek community.”

Fewer than 10 students are under investigation, according to Ms. Bish.

Once the college’s own investigation is complete, those who were involved in the alleged hazing will go before a judicial board, which will decide whether to impose sanctions, including expulsion.

This is not ZAP’s first time under scrutiny. In 2006 the group was suspended for three years after another hazing incident.

When the fraternity re-formed it was with all new members.

The college will consider how to penalize ZAP. Community service, temporary suspension, monetary penalties or permanently disbanding the group are all possibilities, according to Ms. Bish. The fraternity’s history will not be forgotten, she said.

“That will certainly be taken into consideration,” she said.

The college’s Greek life website defines hazing as “an act which endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student, or which destroys or removes public or private property, for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in, a group or organization.”

According to Ms. Bish, the steps taken against ZAP are part of SUNY Canton’s zero-tolerance hazing policy, but the incident will prompt the college to take a closer look at its Greek life programs.

“This will help us craft how we go forward with training and orientation for Greek organizations,” she said.

Zeta Alpha Phi is one of five fraternities and five sororities at SUNY Canton. No members from any of the other organizations have been reported for this or any other incidents of hazing.

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