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Records reveal conduct, disagreements between Kappa Alpha and MU

COLUMBIA, Mo. - More than 500 pages of records detail the conduct violations that lost Kappa Alpha Order recognition at MU, and the disagreements its national office had with the school's process.

ABC 17 News has followed the story since September, when the school began its investigation into the fraternity. An 18-year-old new member went to the hospital for overdosing on alcohol, which his parents believe was an act of hazing.

The university withdrew recognition of Kappa Alpha Order as a student organization for five years beginning in November. The seven sanctions included hazing and providing liquor to minors. Having hard liquor in Greek homes is also against school rules.

The records detail "the culture of the chapter" the Office of Student Conduct said it discovered after the September 27 incident. The office interviewed fifteen members about the semester, including the parties held there and pledge activities. New members said on four occasions they were made to do "line-ups," where the pledge class would perform wall-sit or "planking" exercises. During that time, active members would throw flour, soda or eggs at them and question them on why they wanted to join the fraternity.

One new member said an active made him drink a bottle of hot sauce. Another said he was told to run around the fraternity house in less than a minute "to remind me that I was a pledge," the notes read. 

The September 27 vodka-chugging contest that put Mike and Lynn Zingale's son in the hospital is referenced several times in the notes. The fifteen members interviewed were asked specifically about the night, and many report that they weren't there at the time. Information from those that were present is often redacted to avoid identifying specific people there. None make any direct references to new members being forced to drink that night.

Members called an ambulance the next morning when they found the Zingale's son pale and foaming at the mouth. He had a blood alcohol content more than five times the limit allowed to drive. The university placed KA on emergency suspension shortly after that incident. 

Emails from the fraternity's national office express displeasure with the school's handling of the process in November. Executive director Larry Wiese and Dr. Mark Lucas had several exchanges regarding the punishment that KA would receive, and how the fraternity was handling its own discipline. Dr. Lucas wrote that a lack of chapter alumni support or membership review process, which often leads to the removal of "50%-70%" of the chapter, made the university wary of going lighter than withdrawal of recognition.

Wiese claimed that suspensions and membership reviews were not as effective a way of changing a fraternity's culture. He hoped the school would suspend them for one year while the chapter could work with Plaid, a company that specializes in culture change and guidance and works on other college campuses. 

"Suspending a chapter sends a message that students are unworthy of education - while remaining enrolled as students," Wiese's November 8 letter said. "If students are worthy of remaining in the classroom, are they not worthy of a chance at culture change within the fraternal setting?"

Jesse Lyons, the fraternity's Assistant Executive Director for Advancement, said they "remain in communication with the University on the future of the chapter."

Kappa Alpha was one of two fraternities that lost recognition last semester. The university indefinitely kept Sigma Pi from coming back as a student organization after failing to stop its recruitment the semester after the school withdrew recognition. 

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