Bruised ribs and buttocks. Students forced to drink hot sauce. A pledge injured so severely that medical attention was required.
Those incidents at an Old Dominion University fraternity — documented in an investigation — led the school to suspend Omega Psi Phi and raised concerns anew about hazing on college campuses.
The national organization of the fraternity also placed the Tau Lambda chapter on suspension through at least November 2023, according to documents obtained from Old Dominion.
An Omega Psi Phi investigation discovered photos showing bruises on the ribs and buttocks of potential fraternity members as a result of wood paddling and chest blows, documents state. One student was taken to a hospital by his parents to treat his injuries.
The suspension was first reported by the Virginian-Pilot. The Pilot also reported that students were forced to consume hot sauce and that hot sauce was poured down pledges’ pants.
University spokeswoman Giovanna Genard said the university learned of the investigation from Omega Psi Phi headquarters on Dec. 3 and conducted a probe that led to the fraternity’s suspension from the university for five years.
Genard said the university began a review “to assess all facets of Greek life organizations” in January but would not say if the review was launched because of the Omega Psi Phi hazing allegations.
“Once the review is complete, we will be transparent in sharing the best practices we will implement moving forward,” she said.
Four other Greek organizations at the university in Norfolk are under review for violating the university’s code of conduct, but none of those allegations deals with hazing.
“Old Dominion University has zero tolerance for any behavior that violates the Student Code of Conduct, and students are held accountable for their actions,” Genard said.
Kenneth Barnes, who is listed online as Omega Psi Phi’s international executive director, did not return messages seeking comment Thursday.
Kevin Brown, who belongs to a council that oversees Omega Psi Phi chapters in the District and Virginia, sent letters to two Tau Lambda chapter members in December notifying them they were suspended from the fraternity for hazing activities, according to copies of the letters obtained from the university through a public records request.
The names of the students were redacted by the university.
Old Dominion Police Capt. Garrett Shelton said campus police conducted an investigation separate from one led by university administrators.
Most of the potential victims contacted by police have not wanted to pursue criminal charges. Police said they have not heard from one person they contacted.
“We have nothing to move forward on, at this point,” Shelton said. “If that person chooses not to move forward, there will be no criminal investigation.”
Omega Psi Phi announced in March it would impose a moratorium on most membership selection and social activities for all chapters. That decision came down shortly after Brandon Adams, a Georgia Tech football player and prospective Omega Psi Phi member, collapsed and died while practicing a dance routine, police said.
Police said that nothing in Adams’s autopsy indicated foul play and that there was no evidence to warrant a criminal investigation.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Adams was step-dancing, or stepping, an African American tradition embedded in the culture of black fraternities and sororities, when he fell and hit his head.
Omega Psi Phi did not mention Adams’s death when it announced the indefinite moratorium, but national president David Marion said he was obligated to protect the organization “at any cost.”