UCA fraternity on suspension, probation for alleged hazing

Letter of suspension. 

Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity is offically under probation until August 2020, as well as a social suspension until May 2020, for its role in an alleged hazing incident at its Greek house in the early morning hours of Sept. 26.

According to a UCAPD incident report, two UCAPD officers and one Conway police officer arrived to the Sig Ep residence in response to a caller who reported he had smoked a marijuana joint laced with a unknown substance. 

Amanda Hoelzeman, the media director for UCA, said the Academic and Diversity Committee met Nov. 20 to discuss a recommendation of punishment for the fraternity. The recommendation was sent to the Vice President of Student Services Ronnie Williams for a final decision. 

Under social suspension, the fraternity is not allowed to hold any social events, which includes intramurals, tailgates, parties and formals. However, the fraternity was given an exception to allow an initation of a new member class for the spring 2020 smester. 

The police report states that the officers noted that the distressed calls were still coming in from the individual as they attempted to locate him. A male at the door refused to let the officers in, but another male came to the door and led them to the caller. The caller, identified as Bailey Fields, a Sig Ep pledge, told the officers several times that “they laced it” and “they laced me,” also saying “they had already rolled it” before handing it to Fields. Fields was taken by ambulance to Conway Regional Medical Center to receive treatment.

Fields, as stated within the police report, also told UCAPD Officer Zachary Sanders that he was required to carry around a lighter as a part of initiation into the fraternity. On the evening of Sept. 25, Fields had handed sophomore Matthew Many his lighter upon Many’s request and walked out of the room, leaving his lighter behind. 

After he left the house, Fields told police, he received a text to return to retrieve his lighter. Fields was led into a bathroom by Many, where sophomore Kyle Brantley locked the door behind Fields and Many instructed Fields that if he wanted his lighter back, he had to smoke a joint. Fields followed Many’s intructions and after his fourth time inhaling the marijunana, Fields stated that he was having trouble breathing. Fields made his way out of the bathroom into Brantley’s room, where he stopped and sat down due to shortness of breath. The door was then locked behind Fields. Despite Fields asking repeatedly to go to the hospital, the members present were “laughing, joking, and making fun of him.” Fields said they all went into the bathroom and gave him a window of time to call for the police.

Fields spoke with The Echo about his recollection of that night.

“[After smoking], I told them I wasn’t feeling right and I couldn’t really breathe,” Fields said. “Then I told them to call me an ambulance but they just laughed me off and asked me, ‘Do you know Jesus?’ Then they put me in [Brantley’s] room and left me alone.” 

Upon obtaining Fields’ emergency room report, The Echo discovered the attending physician diagnosed Fields with polysubstance abuse, confirming that at the time of his admission to the ER, there was more than one drug in his system.

In a seperate meeting with police, Many confirmed that he asked Fields if he wanted his lighter back by saying “A. Do you want your lighter? [or] B. Do you want the blunt?" Many said that Fields replied, "C. I want all that shit!"

Many admitted to having marijuana at the Sig Ep house that night and also told UCAPD that they all — including Fields — smoked the same blunt, which is a contradiction to Fields' statement that he was provided a different blunt than what was already being smoked.

However, both Many and Brantley, according to the report, deny that any hazing took place, or that they had kept Fields from leaving Brantley's room after the marijuana was smoked. 

Fields is no longer a student at UCA. He said the incident “ruined Greek life for him,” but did not want to press any charges. 

Multiple reports of hazing within UCA’s Greek life have emerged within the past few years. Most recently, the Kappa Sigma fraternity was suspended from campus, effective until 2021, due to students’ accounts, reported on by The Echo in Feb. 2018, that the fraternity performed hazing-related activites such as spraying cold water on pledges, requiring physical workouts, confining pledges to the fraternity’s “Yellow House” living room all day and all night — except for work and classes — and alleged intimidation to make pledges carry certain items with them at all times. 

Hoelzeman said as of Nov. 22, that the only university violation that Sig Ep is under investigation for is “an allegation of hazing.”

Sig Ep must submit proof that the fraternity has completed a hazing prevention model, as mandated by their national organization, by March 15, 2020.

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