Committee formed to review UB Greek Life

Recommendations due by Fall semester

Mike Baggerman
April 15, 2019 - 1:40 pm

Sigma Pi Fraternity House on Custer Street in Buffalo. 18-year-old Sebastian Serafin-Bazan went into cardiac arrest on the front lawn on the morning of April 12. April 15, 2019 (WBEN Photo/Tim Wenger)

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AMHERST, N.Y. (WBEN) - The University at Buffalo is creating a Greek Life Review Committee in response to the apparent hazing incident involving the Sigma Pi fraternity that left a student on life support.

The 10-to-15 person committee was created to review current university-wide educational strategies, programs, and policies associated with UB's zero-tolerance on hazing. It will also review current conduct, health, and safety programs, including anti-hazing and good Samaritan policies for all recognized Greek organizations, and review general culture of Greek life compared to the university's values and best-practices at the national level. The committee will make a recommendation on fraternities and sororities by this fall. Dean of the UB Graduate School of Education, Suzanne Rosenblith, will chair the committee.

Sebastian Serafin-Bazan, 18, went into cardiac arrest in the early-morning hours on Friday after he was reportedly hazed. The freshman had no drugs or alcohol in his system and was reportedly forced to do strenuous exercises. Bazan remains in critical condition at Buffalo General Hospital.

In response to the alleged hazing, University at Buffalo President Satish Tripathi suspended the activities of all Greek life organizations. There are 45 recognized fraternities and sororities according to the University at Buffalo website, including Sigma Pi International.

"We'll also be reaching out and meeting with our Greek life organizations to counsel and review again our zero-tolerance policy and the serious consequences of hazing," UB Vice President of Student Life Scott Weber told reporters on Monday. "I think it's our responsibility to constantly evaluate our programs and policies. This is not the first time but it's the first time I think one of our recognized fraternal organizations have potentially been involved with such a situation. I thought it was the right time to take a time out...It gives us a chance to take a pause, review, and re-affirm our values."

Weber said that Greek groups that are accused of hazing have their cases go through the Office of Student Conduct and Advocacy and said that consequences vary depending on the incident.

Fraternity and sorority houses are all off-campus and the university cannot go into the homes because it is outside their jurisdiction. Weber said the university will often walk with Buffalo Police.

"Most importantly, we educate our students constantly about this behavior," Weber said. "We start with orientation where we provide presentations to both the students and their parent. We do it and affirm it again in our student conduct process when they come to the university and they have to positively affirm. They have three sections of the student conduct process where hazing is talked about and our zero-tolerance of hazing. If you join a Greek Life organization, we again, talk about it."

Unrecognized fraternities are identified on the campus website and any student that joins them risk violating the code of conduct.

About five percent of students at the University at Buffalo participate in Greek life.

Weber said they have had no past record of issues with Sigma Pi and noted it's too early in the process to determine if any action will be taken against its members.

"We're allowing the Buffalo Police Department to do their investigation," Weber said.

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