ATHENS, Ohio - Ohio University on Thursday took the unusual step of notifying all fifteen Interfraternity Council organizations on its campus that they are indefinitely suspended while the school looks into multiple new accusations of hazing.
Carly Leatherwood, the university's senior director of communications services told FOX 8 the accusations were of seven new incidents.
"In a very short window of time -- 48 hours, really-- we have had seven allegations come forward against seven different fraternities for hazing and so we felt it was in the best interest of everyone to put things on hold and reset," said Leatherwood.
The university is not discussing the nature of the alleged hazing incidents but Leatherwood did say they have been investigated by police.
"I can tell you that the normal course of action that we take when we get an allegation is to involve law enforcement first to allow them to decide whether there was criminal activity such as that, and at this point in time the police have decided --determined-- that there has not been any criminal activity that would be acted upon at this time," said Leatherwood.
The suspension means the fraternities cannot hold meetings or conduct activities, including social activities, while they are under suspension.
Leatherwood understands that means they will not be able to participate in homecoming activities that have already been planned for next week.
The accusations also come less than a year after Collin Wyant of Dublin, Ohio, died during a hazing incident at the Sigma Pi fraternity at Ohio University.
That fraternity has since been permanently expelled from campus.
An attorney for his estate, which has filed a lawsuit against Sigma Pi fraternity, told FOX 8 a previous suspension of that fraternity did not seem to do anything to change its culture.
"We know that there were complaints of hazing from Sigma Pi back in 2014, there was a suspension there wasn't a long-term effect on the group so, again, I think it's a step in the right direction but I think it's too little too late," Sean Alto told FOX 8 News on Friday.
"I think all universities have a responsibility to make sure fraternities and sororities that are operating on campus are operating within the rules that they have set up. Frankly, I think that the policy should be zero tolerance," said Alto, explaining that he would like to see a one strike and you are out policy.
Ohio University does have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to hazing, explaining that the safety and security of its students is a priority.
None of the fraternities that are under suspension on campus were commenting on the action.
But around campus students feel that while the allegations involve seven different fraternities, the suspension includes eight others for which there are no accusations of wrongdoing.
"My friends that are in fraternities are all really good people and I feel bad because they don't know why this is happening to their fraternity because they have nothing to do with it and that's why it is upsetting to them -- that their homecoming plans are really getting messed up -- and their formals and their philanthropy events are getting messed up," said Jacob Sapolin, a junior who is a member of an academic fraternity which is not under suspension.
Some on campus are surprised that even one fraternity would consider hazing a member after the extreme tragedy that happened there last November.
"At Ohio University, we don't want any of our Bobcat students to be dying as a result of hazing or being harmed from it and so when we hear things about hazing it's really upsetting, but the vast majority of our students don't partake in any sort of thing like that," said Sapolin.