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University student arrested in alleged hazing incident

Phi Delta Theta fraternity not affiliated with University's Greek Life

By Scott Roberts | 03/30/14 | Updated 03/30/14 | Posted in News, Campus News, Local News

George Sinclair
George Sinclair

A University of Hartford student was arrested during spring break for his alleged involvement in a hazing incident for the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, an underground fraternity off-campus.

21-year-old George Sinclair faces assault charges after turning himself in to police on March 13. A warrant for his arrest stated that Sinclair allegedly served as "Assistant Pledge Master" for Phi Delta Theta, which is not affiliated with the University of Hartford or the University's Greek Life.

Back in November, a freshman pledge went to police, saying he had been the victim of several hazing incidents, which allegedly included, but were not limited to, stripping down to their underwear and treading water in a cold pond while clapping their hands, holding a plank position on the undersides of bottle caps, and putting out lit cigarettes on their tongue and swallowing them.

According to the warrant, the student also told police Sinclair's involvement with the alleged hazing on one occasion, where Sinclair allegedly poked students in the chest with the butt end of a golf club and struck them with the shaft of the club if they answered a question incorrectly.

The Phi Delta Theta fraternity had been previously recognized by the University's Greek Life, but their charter was revoked in 2011 for "failing chapter operations."

In a written statement, the Phi Delta Theta national chapter, based in Oxford, Ohio, stated that neither George Sinclair nor any undergraduate member at the University of Hartford was considered a national member of the Greek organization, and any student "misrepresenting themselves as a member of Phi Delta Theta is doing so illegally."

"We've been trying a lot over the past couple of years to educate students on the dangers of joining these groups such as these," said Greek Life Advisor for Fraternity Life Kevin Ruiz.

Ruiz said the University's Intrafraternity Council and National Panhellenic Conference hold numerous sessions known as Greek 101 to inform their members about the basics of Greek Life, including the dangers of "undergrounding," as well as the dangers of hazing.

According to a letter sent to students and parents regarding Greek Life, there are four Greek organizations that are not affiliated with the University of Hartford.

"Joining one of these illegal or un-sanctioned Greek organizations could be very costly to your son or daughter," the letter reads. "These organizations are not recognized by the University of Hartford or the national offices. These "underground" chapters do not receive any support from the national offices, for example, liability and risk management insurance coverage, financial management of chapter dues and fees, chapter support and guidance from local or regional chapter advisers."

You can find this letter in its entirety at the following link: http://www.hartford.edu/studentaffairs/departments/studentactivities/greeklife/files/pdf/parentletter.pdf.

Many students are questioning the standards of the University's Greek Life following these incidents and this investigation, to which executive board members from the IFC and Panhellenic Conference say instances like these do not represent the values and standards represented at the University of Hartford.

"To be a fraternity man or even a Greek individual, it's really about balancing the three prongs of being a successful student in college: strong academic life, strong leadership life, and a strong social life," IFC President Sean O'Donovan said.

George Sinclair was released on bail, and appeared in court on March 27.

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