Phi Sigma Kappa files complaint against USC

Phi Sigma Kappa was notified of its suspension by a letter from the Vice Provost of Student Affairs on Oct. 5. It said it has not received explanation from USC despite reaching out multiple times. (Dimple Sarnaaik | Daily Trojan)

Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity filed a complaint Thursday against USC regarding its sudden interim suspension for alleged hazing over a week ago. The fraternity is calling the University’s actions a violation of California law and USC policy.

Phi Sigma Kappa alleged that the University suspended its activities without warning and without providing a reason or a hearing. The fraternity asked the court to order USC to lift the suspension and allow the fraternity to resume activities until the University discloses the allegations and gives the fraternity a fair hearing.

“We still haven’t had any formal response from the University,” Phi Sigma Kappa President Bradley Billig said. “We’ve sent them multiple letters, multiple court documents at this point … We’ve reached out so many times.”

The University is currently evaluating the hazing allegations.

“USC takes allegations of hazing very seriously and is investigating,” the University said in a statement to the Daily Trojan. “Organizations that are being investigated for alleged violations of the code of conduct can be instructed to suspend or modify social activities pending results of an investigation.”

The California Code of Civil Procedure states that holding a fair hearing and factual basis for punishment is required, which Phi Sigma Kappa claims it did not receive from the University, according to the complaint.

Additionally, USC policy states that an organization may be suspended if a hazing allegation is proven. The policy requires written notice through email detailing the allegation and the reasoning behind the charge.

The memorandum from the fraternity said they never received any information regarding the hazing allegations, and explained that the suspension has tarnished the organization’s reputation.

“USC accused and punished PSK, and made such accusation and punishment public, without so much as informing PSK why it was being punished,” the lawsuit stated.

Phi Sigma Kappa leadership said it interviewed the fraternity’s head of new member induction as well as this year’s pledge class and asked its members if they were aware of any hazing, but did not find evidence of such behavior.

“We’ve instructed all of our new members and incumbent members to be fully cooperative with SJACS if they’re ever called in for a witness testimony or anything like that,” Billig said. “We told them to be as honest as possible and to comply because we don’t want to make this hostile.”

Phi Sigma Kappa said it has a Judicial Board for students to anonymously report conduct, but has received no hazing complaints, according to the lawsuit.

The fraternity was notified about the suspension through a letter from Student Affairs on Oct. 5 after it was informed by the office of Fraternity and Sorority Leadership Development to cancel an event it had planned to hold that night. The event had originally been approved by the FSLD.

“The Suspension Letter offered no basis for the suspension other than the vaguest terms: ‘Reports of alleged behaviors that may have endangered the university community,’” the complaint read.

Three fraternity members, including some executive members, visited the office of Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards Oct. 8, but were not provided with information regarding the suspension because of the ongoing investigation.

The fraternity will appear in court Dec. 7.