Ohio University permanently expelled the Epsilon chapter of Sigma Pi fraternity from the university after the University Hearing Board found the fraternity in violation of 10 different allegations, including four counts of hazing, stemming from an incident that occurred during the Fall Semester.
Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones sent a letter to the fraternity on April 12 informing it of the permanent expulsion.
Sigma Pi was found in violation of endangerment, brutality, coerced consumption, coerced activities, destruction or damage to property, selling or distributing alcoholic beverages, allowing underage students to drink alcohol, unlawful use or possession of other controlled substances, physical harm or threat to a person and reckless action that poses a harm to others.
Collin Wiant, 18, of Dublin, was a freshman and pledge of Sigma Pi Epsilon. He was found unresponsive in an off-campus apartment, 45 Mill St., in November 2018. The apartment was an unofficial annex of Sigma Pi’s Epsilon chapter, according to a previous Post report. He was later pronounced dead at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital.
Sigma Pi was expelled on April 11 and is prohibited from “ever being recognized on the main campus and any regional campus of Ohio University,” according to the letter.
Multiple witnesses mentioned “whippets,” or nitrous oxide, being purchased and consumed. According to Wiant’s autopsy report, he died of asphyxiation due to nitrous oxide ingestion.
The board determined the physical brutality included forced calisthenics, whippings and beatings. Witnesses reports included occasional references to being belted, according to the letter.
The board also found the fraternity in violation of multiple accounts of coerced consumption, including the consumption of onions, hot sauce and alcohol on many occasions. One example was of a party called “Black Out Monday,” when the group shared a large bottle of vodka.
A witness said parties were a “free for all,” and another said “it was just drunk boys being boys.” Both active members and pledges drank together at parties, and multiple witnesses mentioned marijuana being smoked at parties. A witness claimed nothing was forced.
One witness said “everyone was supposed to be twenty-one, and other than tell the younger kids not to drink what else are you going to do?”
In written statements given to investigators, witnesses gave detailed accounts of pledges being hit and other physical harm. In the interview with the hearing board, pledges either didn’t remember details or denied that the events had happened.
One witness said active fraternity members would punch walls next to pledges. Witnesses said they were yelled at by active members of the fraternity who stood within a foot of them.
Other coerced activities found in violation by the board included “personal servitude,” which included doing laundry.
Witnesses said the pledge process made them uncomfortable and referenced the need for their “protectors” to step in when fraternity members would become too aggressive, according to the letter. Multiple witnesses claimed that during the pledge process, one pledge had not taken care of his physical health and rarely slept.
However, the board did not find the fraternity in violation of causing mental stress, despite the behaviors of active members toward the pledges.
Sigma Pi appealed the hearing board’s decision but was denied on April 18. The board found the sanctions against the fraternity to be appropriate.
Sigma Pi then made a petition for Vice Presidential Appeal on April 23. Vice President of Student Affairs Jason Pina upheld the decision made by the board to permanently expel the fraternity.