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Officials investigate Lambda Chi | The Triangle

Officials investigate Lambda Chi

A former brother of Drexel University’s Lambda Chi Alpha chapter made accusations against one member of the fraternity for sexual harassment and against other members for retaliation against him when he reported it. The Office of Equality and Diversity confirmed that they are currently leading an investigation into the allegations against members of Lambda Chi.

Michael Wade, a third-year business student, made official accusations of sexual harassment and retaliation to the University in early March 2013. Wade is accusing a current Lambda Chi member of sexually harassing him and possibly three others connected with the fraternity. He is also accusing the fraternity of retaliation for expelling him after he originally brought the charges to the fraternity.

Michele Rovinsky, the associate vice president of the Office of Equality and Diversity, said, “Right now it is considered an allegation, and we are in the process of investigating the allegation of sexual harassment and retaliation.”

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There is no timeframe as to when the University’s investigation will be completed.

“[The investigation] involves doing a fair, thorough and prompt investigation of the allegations. … The University provides a balanced approach to these cases; we want to make sure while we are doing the investigation that all people involved are treated fairly and their educational opportunities are not impacted,” Rovinsky said.

“Due to the fact that it’s an ongoing investigation with Drexel, I’m not allowed to comment on any of the details. … We are 100 percent fully cooperating with Drexel. We have done everything they have asked us to, we have given them the information they have asked for, and we plan to continue doing that moving forward. We’re not trying to hide anything,” Anthony Iacono, Lambda Chi president and a junior mechanical engineering student, said.

Katie Zamulinsky, assistant dean of students and director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, wrote in an email when asked about the investigation, “We are unable to share any further information regarding the situation until the investigation has been completed.”

According to Wade, the accused invited him to his residence hall room to get to know each other better when Wade first joined the fraternity in March 2012. The accused offered Wade a massage and asked him to remove his clothes and lay on the bed. Wade said he was comfortable with doing so because he’d received massages before.

“At one point [the accused] got naked and squeezed into the bed next to me and I froze. What do you do at that point? It was extremely uncomfortable for me,” Wade said.

After that incident, Wade claimed to have received text messages from the accused, stating that if Wade ever said anything that they would both get in trouble.

Wade didn’t inform anyone of what happened. “One, I thought he wasn’t doing it to other people; two, I was afraid I wasn’t going to get into the fraternity because he threatened that I wouldn’t. I just didn’t think it was happening to other people, I watched him for like a year and nothing,” Wade said.

Wade reported that after moving into the Lambda Chi house in June 2012, the accused on multiple occasions invited him to hang out naked in his room.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day of this year, Wade was approached by an associate member of Lambda Chi and informed that the accused had made the associate member get naked earlier in the day as part of measuring his body mass index during a fitness program, according to Wade.

After speaking with a second associate member, Wade learned the accused asked the second associate member to get naked for a massage and upon his refusal asked, “How can you get naked in front of a woman if you can’t get naked in front of me?” Wade claimed a third associate member was asked to get naked to measure his BMI but refused.

Upon learning of the incidents involving the other associate members, Wade approached Iacono to bring charges against the accused within the fraternity, under their chapter’s policy.

Wade reported meeting with Iacono, the vice president of the fraternity, the accused, and the entire executive committee Jan. 25. Wade said the accused admitted at this meeting to the accusations.

“[The accused] didn’t deny anything. He owned up; he said he did wrong. He was trying to say he wasn’t hazing, though. He admitted he did all these things to these guys, but he kept trying to say, ‘Oh, I didn’t haze. I wasn’t hazing,’” Wade said.

The accused brought charges against himself within the fraternity for “behavior unbecoming of a brother,” not hazing or sexual harassment. This charge prohibited Wade from charging the accused, as it would be double jeopardy. Wade said he believes the accused was advised to do this to receive a lesser punishment.

At the hearing for the charges the accused brought against himself on Feb. 15, Wade was asked to recount his story of harassment. “I told them that at the very least he should be suspended, if not expelled, from the fraternity. Who’s to say he won’t do this in the future? We went a year without knowing he was doing this stuff; there’s no proof that he won’t do it in the future,” Wade said.

For the first time, the accused began arguing that what had happened was mutual, according to Wade.

After some back and forth, Wade said the accused admitted to initiating and provoking the incident between them. Wade also said the accused didn’t deny sending him text messages to hang out naked.

“I left the meeting thinking, … ‘He’s not denying anything. [The executive committee] can’t say that he’s not guilty,’” Wade said.

The Saturday before the accused’s punishment was officially announced, the accused ran for a leadership position within the fraternity. This led Wade to believe the accused was not going to be suspended or expelled for his alleged actions. That same night Wade also reports getting drunk at a party with members of the fraternity.

The accused’s punishment was announced March 4. He was given a warning and instructed to bring a speaker to present on sexual harassment.

“[The executive committee] knew he was guilty because they gave him a punishment, and they knew that he sexually harassed people, but my problem was [the punishment] wasn’t going to do anything to stop him from doing this in the future,” Wade said.

Wade went to the Interfraternity Council and the Office of Equality and Diversity about the alleged incidents to press charges against the accused. During this time, Lambda Chi brought charges against Wade, claiming, “that night that I got drunk I had said that I was going to destroy the fraternity.”

“My friends said I was upset and crying, but I never said anything like that. … It was just words. There was no proof behind any of it. And there were people standing up for me,” Wade said.

Wade’s hearing, where members were brought to testify against him, was held March 10. The executive committee expelled Wade and gave him 24 hours to move out of the fraternity’s house.

“They were a good fraternity. I thought they were the good guys, and they do all this anti-hazing stuff. They were the good guys, and that’s why people join them because they are known for not hazing … and they’re covering it up. And I don’t know if they’re covering it up because they don’t want to lose that image or if they just really want to protect [the accused], but it really disappoints me,” Wade said.

Lambda Chi hired a private investigator to meet with members of the fraternity to get private statements from all members involved, according to an email Iacono sent to members of Lambda Chi.

When asked how the chapter has responded to the investigation, Iacono said, “With what’s been going on, the morale of the chapter is actually pretty high, and the guys are still moving forward and it’s not negatively impacting our day-to-day operations.”