The Sunflower

‘Anchor runs,’ ‘scaring techniques,’ ‘games of varying degrees’: Leaked email details Beta hazing allegations

The+anchor+at+the+Delta+Gamma+house+sits+off+of+21st+street+and+is+the+site+of+a+hazing+ritual+called+%22The+Anchor+Run.%22
The anchor at the Delta Gamma house sits off of 21st street and is the site of a hazing ritual called

The anchor at the Delta Gamma house sits off of 21st street and is the site of a hazing ritual called "The Anchor Run."

Kylie Cameron

Kylie Cameron

The anchor at the Delta Gamma house sits off of 21st street and is the site of a hazing ritual called "The Anchor Run."

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An email about Beta Theta Pi’s 2017 hazing violations — sent to the presidents of WSU fraternities — said that new members were allegedly forced to participate in “anchor runs,” were woken up aggressively with “scaring techniques” and were forced into physical activities and “games of varying degrees.”

The email, from former assistant director of fraternity and sorority life Lyston Skerritt, was sent because of “concerning reports … regarding hazing and misconduct during new member education and initiation for individuals in pledge classes for fall 2016 to early spring 2017,” the same timeframe of Beta’s hazing violations.

Vice President of Student Affairs Teri Hall confirmed that the email was sent because of hazing allegations related to Beta Theta Pi. The email, sent January 30, 2017, was leaked to The Sunflower by a member of the Greek community.

An anchor run is when a Greek member runs in just their underwear from their fraternity or sorority house to Delta Gamma sorority on Omega Court, across 21st street from Wichita State.

Once they arrive, the member takes off their underwear and hangs it on Delta Gamma’s anchor. Then they run back nude to their fraternity or sorority.

One former fraternity president, not from within Beta Theta Pi, said that the aggressive scaring techniques mentioned in the email included forcing pledges to stay up until 6am on the night of initiation. After finally letting the pledges sleep, they were woken up with firecrackers, the source said.

Pledges were also forced to sit in dark rooms for extended periods of time, the source said, and communication with family members was cut off. Student Conduct, Student Affairs and Student Involvement would not confirm or deny these alleged details.

Beta Theta Pi’s current president, Lane Smith, initially replied to requests for comment, declining an in-person interview but agreeing to answer questions over email. When asked about these alleged details, and the details within Skerritt’s email, Smith did not reply.

Former assistant vice president for student advocacy, intervention, and accountability Mandy Hambleton said in August 2017 to The Sunflower that Beta Theta Pi’s hazing violations were related to “things that affect your physical health and safety” and “things that affect your emotional and mental health safety.”

When asked for further clarification on the details within the email, Lyston Skerritt directed The Sunflower to Student Involvement director Nancy Loosle. Loosle then directed The Sunflower to Student Conduct. Student Conduct’s assistant director Kyle Wilson said he couldn’t comment on specifics of an individual case.

Beta Theta Pi’s sanctions for hazing included a deferred suspension, disciplinary probation and a membership review, where each brother was scrutinized to determine if they should remain with the fraternity.

Teri Hall said the membership review — an extra step that Phi Delta Theta, who also recently received hazing sanctions, was not required to do — was because of Beta’s unwillingness to cooperate with the university’s investigation.

“At that time, Beta Theta Pi did not necessarily want to say ‘we screwed up, we want to do better, let us work with you to make sure that happens,’” Hall said. Leaders within the fraternity did not reply to emails or return calls from university officials, Hall said.

“I believe (Beta Theta Pi national headquarters) was concerned about the leadership as much as we were,” Hall said. At the time of the investigation into hazing allegations, Beta’s president was removed from office.

Hall said that’s a problem within fraternities — choosing between defending your members or defending the ethics of your organization.

“I’d say sometimes undergraduate members of chapter struggle with loyalty,” Hall said. “Who’s your loyalty to? Is your loyalty to the brothers or sisters in your chapter, or is your loyalty to the values of the organization?”

Anchor runs, participated in by fraternities and sororities, have been a part of WSU’s Greek community for years, members of the Greek community said. They could happen as part of initiation, or could come up as a dare during a night of drinking.

Hall said she is aware of anchor runs, but has never seen actual evidence of it happening.

“Frankly, I’ve heard tales of anchor runs, but no one’s ever reported it since I’ve been here,” Hall said. “And I’m not used to sorority girls running naked. I’m used to fraternity boys running naked.”

Hall said it’s important to remember that “hazing is a criminal offense.” Hazing is a misdemeanor crime in Kansas.

“It can be life threatening,” Hall said.

Hazing incidents are turned over to the District Attorney, Hall said, if a police report is filed and “(the university) feels there is enough to turn over to the D.A.”

When asked if a police report was filed against Beta Theta Pi, Hall said she was unsure.

“It could have been there were just (university incident reports) and no police reports.”

The University Police Department wasn’t immediately able to check if a report about Beta’s hazing had been made last year. Robert Hinshaw, interim police chief, said he’d have that information available soon.

Hinshaw said because there is no hazing classification for a police report, he would have to check the details within reports from the timeframe of Beta’s hazing violations.

“It could be an information report, a disorderly conduct report — there’s a whole series of classifications it could be,” Hinshaw said. “It would be dependent on the report to see if it could potentially be hazing.”

Hall said her conversations with fraternity leaders give her hope that WSU’s fraternities want to work toward operating within the university’s guidelines and values.

“If we did that, then we wouldn’t be having the problems that we do,” Hall said.

“The conversations I’ve had with our chapter presidents said ‘I don’t want us to be a campus that closes down.’”


TIMELINE OF RECENT WSU HAZING:

January 2017 – A member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity reports hazing within the fraternity to Student Involvement during spring 2017’s Greek initiation week.

On Jan. 30, 2017, Lyston Skerritt, former assistant director of fraternity and sorority life, emails fraternity presidents because of hazing reports from initiation week “for individuals in pledge classes for fall 2016 to early spring 2017.” Skerritt mentions “anchor runs,” “physical activities/games of varying degrees,” and “varying schedules with aggressive wake up/scaring techniques” in the email.

March 2017 – Beta Theta Pi fraternity is placed on deferred suspension, academic probation and undergoes membership review after a university investigation into hazing allegations stemming from their January 2017 initiation week. The hazing was reported to Student Involvement by a member of Beta.

June 2017 – After completing their sanctions and undergoing membership review — after which a number of members did not return — Beta returns to fully functioning as an organization on campus.

November 2017 – Phi Delta Theta fraternity is placed on deferred suspension and academic probation for hazing and drinking violations. Aaron Austin, associate vice president for student affairs, makes an error when determining their sanctions, and the fraternity returns to fully functioning on campus shortly after.

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