Indiana University’s Alpha Tau Omega fraternity officially closed on Thursday afternoon.
“The national ATO has closed the ATO chapter in Bloomington as a fraternity,” said IU spokesperson Mark Land in an interview with the Indiana Daily Student. “It no longer exists.”
On Wednesday evening, ATO was suspended following the release of a video depicting what appears to be a hazing ritual in which a man is physically forced to perform oral sex on a woman.
According to the statement, the investigation conducted by the national fraternity found that the sexual act performed in the video was done by an initiated member of Alpha Tau Omega, not a pledge, and that about half of the chapter’s members were present.
The closing of the chapter is immediately effective and means all chapter activities must cease. The national fraternity will continue to work with the university on the investigation, the statement said.
“Indiana University takes its responsibility to foster a culture of care and respect among the students on its campuses extremely seriously,” reads a press release from the university. “If true, the alleged actions on the part of some members of the Alpha Tau Omega chapter run completely contrary to that commitment. They also would represent violations of the university’s student code of conduct and will not be tolerated.”
After the suspension, ATO was asked to complete a roster of new and active members, and several university bodies, including the Office of Student Ethics, are investigating the fraternity.
ATO nationally has found itself in a startling amount of trouble, and this investigation is not the first of its kind even for the ATO chapter at IU—in fact, the fraternity chapter has a history of alleged misconduct that has led the chapter to be widely referred to as “AT Blow,” “AT Snow,” and, charmingly, “The Rape House.”
An article in the Indiana Daily Student profiling the ATO’s current president Tommy Paslaski, published in April 2015, describes Paslaski’s quest to the chapter’s negative reputation—rumors were that, upon pledging, one would have to “do a line of coke and get a dildo,” which in his experience, proved untrue.
But the thing about frats is that, reliably, reputations are reputations for good reason. A Google search was able to take me all the way back to October of 1992, when the university’s fraternity scene was subject of a report entitled, “Brotherhood and the Bottle: A Cultural Analysis of the Role of Alcohol in Fraternities,” undertaken by the university’s own Center for the Study of the College Fraternity. The paper recounts ATO’s “Dad’s Night” activity in February of that same year, when at least one 20-year-old sophomore was taken to the hospital in a coma with a blood alcohol level of 0.48 percent—usually a fatal dosage of alcohol. In this case, the pledge survived.
In March of 2010, ATO was forced to drastically reduce its membership—from over 100 to 20—after an ethics board investigation concluded that the chapter had an excess of violations.
“In addition to hazing, there were other issues,” said Smiley at the time. “Low grade point averages, a lack of willingness to admit that the chapter was not in a good place based on actions of members, and in some cases, a general attitude that if Delta Alpha was not ‘party central,’ what was the point? ‘After all,’ one commented, ‘ATO is not really about anything other than to facilitate alcohol-fueled parties.’”
Most recently, ATO had to discontinue its beloved “Ménage à Tau” party, “an annual, exclusive soiree at which female guests drank expensive alcohol and wore lingerie,” after a woman said she had been raped. The woman never reported the incident to the university, but the guilty brother was swiftly kicked out of the frat.
Last spring, Paslaski was invited to speak on a panel about sexual assault to a group of Bloomington High School students.
“If you see a girl who’s clearly too drunk, or if you see a guy who’s being creepy with a girl,” he said on the panel, “It is your job to step in and do something.”
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