University of South Florida suspends fraternity over antisemitic hazing

The suspension took place following complaints about antisemitic initiation rituals and an online post mocking the Holocaust.

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

The University of South Florida (USF) has indefinitely suspended a fraternity following complaints about antisemitic initiation rituals and an online post mocking the Holocaust, a campus newspaper reported Sunday.

USF commenced an investigation of Pi Kappa Phi’s conduct after a Jewish pledge revealed that a member drew a swastika on his body at an initiation event.

A student’s post “endorsing Hitler and the death of more than 6 million Jews” also surfaced on an online platform for discussing Greek life, according to a description of the incident by USF Hillel.

“Mockery of the Holocaust, the use of hate symbols and the trivialization of genocide are unacceptable,” the campus Jewish group said Tuesday. “This behavior not only harms the Jewish community on campus but also undermines the foundational values of the University.”

According to The Oracle, USF charged Pi Kappa Phi with violating school rules on hazing and underage drinking. The school previously called the alleged actions of the fraternity members “reprehensible.”

Director of Student Conduct and Ethical Development Melissa Graham will meet with Pi Kappa Phi on Tuesday to discuss the charges and render a final decision on the length of its suspension.

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“Guests were given sharpies and told to engage with the associate members and then write on their shirts,” Graham said in an email obtained by The Oracle. “Associate members had inappropriate objects (penises and a swastika) drawn on their shirts and/or body parts. Alcohol was present at the event and consumed by associate members.”

“Based on the information received, the continual operations of the organization at USF likely pose an ongoing threat, disruption or interference to the health and safety and continued functions of the USF community,” she added.

On Friday, Pi Kappa Phi at USF said it “condemns the reprehensible antisemitic action that has happened at the University of South Florida,” while asserting that individuals outside the fraternity were responsible for both the swastika drawn on a pledge and the online post. The group added that it is cooperating with the university’s investigation.

“Pi Kappa Phi values the human dignity of each person,” it said in a statement shared on Instagram. “The fraternity is committed to providing ongoing training and partners with our host institutions and inter-fraternal peers to address any issues of hate in our communities.”

Following the announcement of Pi Kappa Phi’s suspension, USF Hillel thanked the campus community for their support, saying, “our students and staff feel seen and loved.”

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