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Drexel suspends frat for five years

Drexel University earlier this week suspended one of its fraternities for five years for alcohol violations, according to a university statement issued Thursday morning.

A Drexel University Public Safety officer stands guard May 9, 2017 outside the fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) on Powelton Ave. which has been suspended by the university while under investigation for a pair of sexual assaults.
A Drexel University Public Safety officer stands guard May 9, 2017 outside the fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) on Powelton Ave. which has been suspended by the university while under investigation for a pair of sexual assaults.Read moreCleam Murray / Staff Photographer

Drexel University has taken disciplinary action against two of its 15 fraternities and is investigating a rape allegation at a third as it joins a number of area schools coping with problems among their Greek organizations.

The university said in a statement Thursday that it had suspended recognition of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity — already under investigation for three alleged sexual assaults reported to have occurred at its home — for five years for alcohol violations and failure to comply with regulations.

A university spokeswoman also said the school had placed Lambda Chi Alpha on interim suspension following allegations of hazing and alcohol violations.

And an alleged rape was reported at Pi Kappa Alpha on May 13, according to the university's crime log. That case is also under investigation by the university, spokeswoman Niki Gianakaris said.

The reports and action at the West Philadelphia-based university come as several schools in the region have been dealing with problems in their Greek systems. Pennsylvania State University, reeling from the death of Tim Piazza, 19, following an alcohol-fueled pledge night party at a fraternity, will hold a meeting of its board of trustees next week to consider changes in the system.

Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., where 30 percent to 40 percent of the student body belongs to Greek organizations, has imposed sanctions on Greek groups for alcohol and hazing violations this year, and reported that in two cases students nearly died from alcohol consumption. And the University of Pennsylvania this spring announced new procedures for dealing with unrecognized or "underground" fraternities and sororities, where high-risk drinking and other bad behavior have been reported.

Drexel, in a statement about Tau Kappa Epsilon's suspension, said it "values its fraternity and sorority community and recognizes the positive impact membership can have on the individual experiences of students and the esprit de corps of the university. It is unfortunate when any student organization loses recognition at the university."

Tau Kappa Epsilon previously was on interim suspension as the university investigated reports of the alleged sexual assaults at the fraternity's house in the 3400 block of Powelton Avenue.

But according to documents obtained by the Inquirer and Daily News, the sexual-assault allegations are not listed as a reason for the punishment.

The suspension was first reported by the student newspaper, the Triangle.

Under the suspension, the fraternity must cease operation and will  not be able to participate in campus activities, use campus facilities, or participate in activities with other organizations.The members who live there will be required to vacate the house.

"The decision was made after considering the chapter's risk-management deficiencies," the university said in the statement.

The national office of Tau Kappa Epsilon, based in Indiana, said in a statement Thursday that "based on the information we've received thus far, Tau Kappa Epsilon is disappointed by this decision from Drexel University to close our group for five years. As we seek more information in the coming days, TKE will evaluate our options for appealing their decision."

According to Drexel's crime log, an alleged forcible rape was reported to have occurred at the fraternity house on April 28. An alleged rape by an acquaintance was reported May 4. And a third incident, classified as forcible rape, was reported on May 18; that incident was reported to have occurred during the fall.