The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has revoked the fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon’s (TKE) student organization status in a detailed report that includes allegations of alcohol abuse and a raucous party that sent four people to the hospital complaining they were drugged.
“Based upon my investigation, I conclude that TKE’s recognition as a UWM student organization is hereby revoked,” wrote Heather Harbach, assistant dean of students at UWM, in a written summary of her Investigation into the allegations of student organization misconduct against the Fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE).
“I have been told that the TKE leadership did appeal, but UWM’s judgment was upheld,” UWM Spokesman Tom Luljak said.
In the report dated Oct. 8, obtained by Media Milwaukee through open records law this week, Harbach cites the numerous violations of UW System policies as well as local, state, and federal laws, which have led to the indefinite revocation of TKE’s recognition as a UWM student organization.
The allegations and examples of misconduct cited in the report stem from a Sept. 12, 2014 party that occurred at 3321 N. Oakland Ave., a house that is owned by the TKE’s housing corporation. Subsequently, a TKE leader was charged with drug violations unrelated to the hospitalizations and date-rape drugging claims, which remain still under investigation. No one else has been charged.
“During our group meeting, no one expressed regret, concern, or remorse that four fellow students became so intoxicated at your party that they required emergency medical attention or that all four suspect that their drinks had been drugged,” wrote Harbach.
Four students, all under the age of 21, were transported to the hospital after attending the party. It was reported in Harbach’s summary that all four had dangerously high blood-alcohol content (BAC) of greater than .2, and that all reported similar experiences of vomiting and a lack of memory of the night’s events. All of the students reported only consuming drinks at the TKE house, and many of them consumed only a small amount of drinks that would not normally correlate to such high BAC levels, the report said.
One female guest reported that a member mixed a drink for her out of sight and that after drinking it she felt “very odd.” This guest was later transported to the hospital and had no recollection of the night’s events after consuming the drink.
Another guest reported drinking a half-filled can of beer provided to him/her by a member from the satellite bar. He/she also stated that after consuming the drink he/she felt overly intoxicated and had only sporadic memories of the night. This guest was also transported to the hospital later that night.
In the summary, Harbach writes, “I note that the results of a forensic examination of bottles, cups, and other material from your party are not yet available. As you know, there are concerns that several guests received alcohol that had been drugged. If UWM receives any evidence to substantiate these concerns, such evidence will be appended to this decision, and will be considered as part of any appeal of this decision and/or any future reinstatement petition.”
When asked if the results of the forensic analysis of evidence were in Harbach stated, “Due to the ongoing criminal investigation, the university is not doing any interviews on this topic at this time.”
In the summary Harbach writes, “UWMPD reports seeing approximately 42 individuals in the basement of the TKE house who were not of legal drinking age.”
Harbach described an index card system used by guests to obtain alcohol at the party, saying, “Throughout the day, guests could drop off alcohol and have it checked in on an index card for use that evening. Upon arrival, guests could pick up their index card which noted what alcohol they dropped off and, thus, could retrieve it from the ‘main bar.’ During the drop off, no member checked IDs to verify the age of the guests dropping off alcohol.”
Harbach also found that seven students, all under the age of 21 and freshmen, reported giving a TKE member money to purchase alcohol for them. The TKE member was aware that the students were under 21, two of whom were potential recruits for TKE.
The new findings come on the heels of a defense attorney motion that cited one passage of Harbach’s report in alleging that a UWM police search warrant should be invalidated. After obtaining the motion, Media Milwaukee asked the university for the full report. The report does contain the passage mentioned in the defense motion, in which Harbach finds it appears to be false that guests were targeted with color-coded Xs.
The full Harbach report states that multiple members of the fraternity confirmed that the party was a recruitment event and that it was listed on the recruitment calendar as such. One guest reported having to provide his contact information at the door, as well as express interest in joining the fraternity in order to gain entry to the party.
“During our group meeting to discuss this investigation, members confirmed multiple times that you use your parties to recruit new members. This is prohibited by TKE policy,” wrote Harbach.
During the party, alcohol, dropped off by guests, was served by TKE members at the “main bar.” The alcohol that was being consumed by the guests had allegedly spent several hours prior to the party out of their control at the TKE house.
There was also a second “satellite bar” where there was a reported six cases of beer that had been collectively purchased by members of TKE.
“While some members reported that this beer was for TKE members only, both members and guests confirm that this beer was available for anyone who attended this party. Per your own members, this is a regular occurrence at your parties, and no one is asked for ID at this bar,” wrote Harbach.
Members of TKE confirmed that there were roughly 80-100 people present at the party, almost all of whom were in the basement; which was described as “crowded and hot.”
Members also reported that guests were asked to leave the party if they were overly intoxicated, however no additional effort was made to ensure the guests safety or that they made it to their next destination upon leaving the house.
Harbach writes that one of the party guests, “Reported falling multiple times at the TKE house and striking his/her head, which almost every TKE member at this party confirmed. However, no member reported walking him/her home or contacting an ambulance; he/she was ‘kicked out’ because he/she was too intoxicated.”
Police officers reported several “fresh piles of vomit” around the property. Members confirmed that they knew of at least two people vomiting outside the party.
“Had this incident not been discovered through the actions of the UWMPD, I firmly believe that these parties and your lack of concern or care regarding risk management policies would have continued as they have in the past,” Harbach found. “Every policy or procedure your organization reported as being important for risk management was disregarded at this party and, on your own admission, at parties throughout this last year. These requirements appear to have been viewed as loose guidelines that some dismissed in their entirety.
The revocation of TKE’s charter will result in an indefinite withdrawal of student organizational status, including all privileges of that status. After two years, TKE may petition for reinstatement, which will require approval of both the student association and the Dean of Students.