Auburn FarmHouse Fraternity Placed on Suspension for Hazing Pledges
by Ellison Langford / NEWS EDITOR
Dec 03, 2009 | 18883 views | 66 66 comments | 87 87 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Fraternities and Sororities Committee held a meeting Thursday Dec. 3 to discuss a sanction proposed against the Farmhouse fraternity: Rod Guajardo/ Photo Editor
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The Alpha Zeta chapter of FarmHouse was placed on suspension today after a hearing by the Fraternities and Sororities Committee.

The suspension was one of a list of six sanctions the Office of Greek Life recommended be handed down to the chapter after it was alleged to have been hazing its pledges.

Being placed on suspension means the chapter will no longer be recognized by Auburn University for a period of six to 36 months.

Outgoing chapter president Josh Murphy said he plans to appeal the sanctions.

“I feel like the punishment was extremely severe,” Murphy said.

The fraternity was found to have been subjecting pledges to verbal harassment, requiring pledges to perform errands or chores and conducting interrogations.

If the fraternity is able to comply with the committee’s list of six sanctions, University recognition of the chapter will be reinstated. However, the chapter will remain under disciplinary probation for a period of 36 months minus the amount of time it takes the chapter to comply with the sanctions. This means if the fraternity complies with the sanctions within six months, it will be on probation for 30 months.

“The chapter would simply halt in its patterns today, it would just sort of go into a state of non-activity,” said Paul Kittle, director of Greek Life, before the vote. “The only activity they would do is work with the international fraternity and the alumni and work to address all the points that are listed above.”

In addition to suspension, the committee is also requiring the chapter to initiate all new members who are eligible, undergo a member review with the FarmHouse International Fraternity, revise its new member education program and provide a framework for growth of the local advisory board.

These sanctions come in addition to six sanctions that were handed down by the Interfraternity Council Nov. 17.

The committee discussed the issue for almost an hour before voting whether the sanctions would be applied to the fraternity. The vote was 6-5 with no amendments suggested to the sanctions.

Murphy said he was unaware hazing was happening. He said the allegations stemmed from a few isolated incidences, and that they were not accurate representations of FarmHouse.

Three sophomore brothers who had been involved in hazing pledges were expelled from the fraternity.

During the hearing Murphy contested some of the allegations had been misconstrued as acts that are considered hazing when they weren’t.

The superior quality of FarmHouse was mentioned several times during the hearing by those hoping to save the chapter from suspension, despite this being the third time in five years FarmHouse has been accused of physically hazing pledges.

“We’ll concede all the accolades to the chapter 100 percent,” Kittle said. “Hands down, they’re a darn good chapter. What I’d like to show is which one of those accolades gives them the right to haze Auburn students.”

Kittle disagreed with those present during the hearing who seemed more interested in keeping FarmHouse from being suspended than preventing hazing.

“I just find it interesting that what I said at the beginning doesn’t seem to have been heard, is that my goal is that we have FarmHouse on this campus,” Kittle said. “And we’re talking about the safety of students, and yet the students are talking about protecting the fraternity.”

Although suspension will keep the chapter from hosting social events of recruiting new members until it complies with the sanctions, Murphy said he is optimistic.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Murphy said. "I have a lot of confidence in our brotherhood, and I know we’ll be able to bounce back from this and become stronger from it.”

Comments
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Leigh Taylor
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January 01, 2010
I was a FH Little Sister between 86-89. I spent many hours at the house on Toomer! I will say this, the brothers were amazing and were extremely helpful and willing to go out of their way to help the little sisters and Mom Estes, the house mother. There will always be one or two people in ANY GROUP that don't "conform" to the rules but making the entire Fraternity suffer and making generalizations about FH as a whole is just WRONG! Just like the people below me have said...a Fraternity is NOT for everyone...but spreading scandalous rumors just because you didn't like something....WRONG!

Leigh Taylor

Class of '89 AU

FH 86 to 89

Chuck Heaton
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December 21, 2009
It sounds like to me some members of the IFC were out to get FarmHouse after all of its achievements and its continued success of being a fine fraternity on campus. As an FH alumnus from the 80's, I am very proud of the ocntinued achievement of the chapter and the fine men its continuing to turn out. It sounds like to me an independent investigation needs to be conducted for the real facts to come out.

Chuck Heaton

Class of '88 AU

FH 83 to 88
anonymous
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December 20, 2009
@tigerfan90
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December 12, 2009
First, ask any member of any fraternity - or any secret society for that matter - if by being a part of the junior brother (new member education, pledgeship, etc.) program for less than 1/4 of the entire period means that you know what is going on. Believe me, you have no idea how the process works. From deciding on how bids are given out up until the last few minutes before initiation, someone who is not a member has no clue.

As a junior brother of FarmHouse, I spent a semester never knowing what was coming up next, and what did it do? It left me on my toes. How did I succeed? I was always prepared. I learned time-management. I learned how to better take initiative. I learned to grow-up because out in the real world, beyond high school, beyond college, life isn't spoon-fed to you.

At the time, I thought cleaning a house made dirty by other people sucked. It wasn't much fun to start out. However, my entire pledge class was there. It wasn't me cleaning a house, it was my pledge class cleaning OUR house.

There were 37 of us to start out. Some dropped because they didn't have enough time; some just weren't ready to give up their "time, pleasures, and comforts;" and others dropped because after a whole semester, they ended up not achieving the required GPA. Some tried again, some didn't. A fraternity isn't for everyone.

Second, there is never a vow taken by the FarmHouse brotherhood to prohibit the drinking of alcohol. Is the house dry? Yes. Is the junior brother program dry? Yes. Is the fraternity dry? No.

Another thing that comes with growing up is learning responsibility. Choices you make today can forever shape your future. Why is the junior brother program dry? For one reason, it helps develop a mentality that for every party, for every occasion, for every night alcohol is not needed.

In college, many people get started out on the wrong foot because they believe that everyone else on campus throws or attends a house party or goes to the bar every night. What does this lead to? A fast loss of money, potential run-ins with law enforcement, and most likely lower first semester grades. If your first semester away from home is filled with drinking, partying, no parents and no rules, how much studying will you force yourself to do? Sure, you might cram the night before a test, but how often will that result in the same grade as if you had been studying for several weeks prior?

FarmHouse's junior brother program succeeds because it takes the time develop a different mentality of college for its brothers. I think that shows itself in FarmHouse's long-running standing as having the highest GPA among fraternities, and having a higher GPA average than the campus wide all-male GPA.

This period of not drinking isn't solely for your permanent records sake or just for your health. It's to let you see that alcohol isn't always needed. That's not to say that a brother of FarmHouse cannot drink, though.

I'm sorry that you came to FarmHouse with a distorted image of what FarmHouse is. Don't worry, ask most people on campus, they wouldn't understand it either. That's just one of many things that sets our fraternity apart and above.

Third, please, please, please don't try and spout off the history of the Alpha Zeta chapter of FarmHouse. For those who do know it, we know what you wrote below is wrong, but for those who don't they will take it as fact. That is not why FarmHouse was formed. Even if at some point there was a truth to that story, it has been folded over, manipulated and distorted beyond recognition. If you want to learn how FarmHouse started, ask a brother.

Which brings me to my last point. Fourth, my father is also a FarmHouse brother at the Auburn chapter from the 80's. Just because you were a legacy did not mean that you were guaranteed a bid. I don't even know who you are, but for you to receive a bid, an overwhelming majority of brothers believed that you possessed the potential to become a brother of FarmHouse. I'm not trying to dramatize it, it's just the truth. They did not give you a bid because they thought that your father could excel in the junior brother program of his time, they thought you could excel in the junior brother program of your time.

Believe me when I say this, while some of the tactics and some of the traditions have been altered in the junior brother program, the core tenets remain the same. Pledgeship remains one in which "a brother can criticize constructively his brother to his face and not his back."

FarmHouse is "a home where men learn leadership, realizing that in order to be a leader a man must be willing to follow." I'm sorry your preconceived notions of us got in the way of an opportunity for you to join a brotherhood that can help prepare you for life outside your parents' home.

Nathan Payne

FH '05
tigerfan90
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December 12, 2009
I apologize for what I said about AGR. I realize that siuation happened years ago and that the current brotherhood cannot help that. I personaly know some current AGR's and, to my understanding they are very anti hazing. Once again, I apologize to all who are reading.
anonymous
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December 12, 2009
AU Sorority Alum
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December 12, 2009
I've only known one guy who was in FarmHouse during my time at Auburn. He is happily married, working a great job, and is a gentleman by every standard. It is unfortunate that a few bad apples can make the entire organization look bad. That is the case for every fraternity on campus. You may have met a few bad apples that made the entire organization look bad. I don't think it's fair the FarmHouse is punished so severely when other fraternities have gotten away with way worse (Greek and Non-Greek alike).

What I don't understand is why these pledges felt as though they were being hazed. New members of any organization go under interrogation, usually questions about the history of the organization and the people currently in it. Errands? Chores? That should be expected in any organization. Maybe the brothers in question went about things in the wrong way. They should be punished, not the entire fraternity.

Believe me, FarmHouse should be the least of IFC's worries.

And for the record, I was in the Marching Band as well. Never were we driven across state lines and forced to drink.
tigerfan90
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December 12, 2009
To soundmindsound body: I stayed in for three to four weeks. Plenty of time to understand the process.

To Steve Campbell: Thank you for the kind remarks toward the end. I understand what you are talking about. However, every fraternity can be like that. FH is (suppose) to be different. My dad was in FH at Auburn in the 80's and I have seen the amazing bond between he and his brothers all of my life. Because of that bond I wanted to be a part of this brotherhood that did not drink and were just good guys. The hazing issue wasn't even a thought. I can assure you that there has never been a young man that wanted to rush FH more than I did. But I wanted to be a part of what they had...My dad and his brothers didn't go through the type of pledgeship that I did. They had responsibilities that they shared with the brothers, but they were treated as regular people, not second class citizens. OSU's FH may have been different than Auburn's, but the Alpha Zeta chapter was formed on the bases of no hazing. AGR tried to force a pledge to drink and threatened to whoop him for not. That man left and formed Auburn FH.
Steve Campbell
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December 11, 2009
Tigerfan: perhaps if you had the perseverance to overcome your initial fear (of the 10%), the discipline to understand that "no toilet paper" means the pledge failed to perform an assigned chore, the wisdom to understand the importance of knowing a brother’s name, the desire to be physically fit…then you would’ve had the intellectually capacity to understand that constructive criticism, hard work, discipline will gain you the respect and love of a brotherhood. Perhaps you would have understood that sometimes one has to “tear down” some of the old “high school” baggage (cockiness, lack of respect, laziness (face it no one worked real hard during high school)) in the process of… Builders of Men. And, through becoming an active member, you would have had a band of brothers that would last a lifetime and that you could have worked with to change the 10%.

I wish you well in college and life. I am sure you will do well and probably do possess many of the character qualities mentioned above, but perhaps FH’s approach to you as a pledge did not work. I can also assure you that in the “old days”, the “roots” as you say, the “building process” was much stricter and the definition of “hazing” was quite different, “looser” one could say, than today. But, pledgeship is not for everyone, which you recognized, and exercised your right to voluntarily leave.

Regds,

Steve Campbell

FH Okla State '81

soundmindsoundbody
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December 11, 2009
First tigerfan sounds bitter. Second tigerfan may have been a pledge for at the very most one day by judging the accuracy of the rumors you picked up. Or maybe they were never a pledge and just knew one. The language sounds as though a girl is writing in a boys voice, who knows...
tigerfan90
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December 11, 2009
FH pledgeship is full of hazing. I know. I was a pledge and I quit for many reasons. These chores they speak of mean this: pledges stay at the house for around 8 to 10 hours a day cleaning and doing whatever a brother tells them to do. Pledges are yelled at many many times for stupid reasons such as: not having toilet paper in the restroom, not knowing a brothers name and many other reasons that shouldn't matter one bit. The first day of pledgeship all new members walk in to a crowded room full of brothers who begin to yell at them, tell them how they don't care about what they did in high school and how they will be your friends in the future but not now. After I dropped I was told of an incident where the pledges were brought outside and ran back and forth on the volleyball court until some pledges threw-up. FH's pledgeship does not build men like the fraternity once did. It tears them down. Pledges are miserable and scared to take their next step for fear of making a mistake like no toilet paper in the bathroom.

I will say this, most of the brothers in this fraternity are fine young men. There are probably around ten percent of the the brothers who have ruined the place. I hate it for these great men who are in this fraternity but maybe this will help them to realize that they should step up and take a stand against this hazing because every brother knows what is going on. They may not know the specific details of every hazing incident but they know that certain brothers take pride in making a pledges life miserable.

I hope that FH goes back to their roots because of this situation and takes pride in the fact that the Alpha Zeta chapter was formed on the bases of no drinking and no hazing. Two things they have lost sight of.

interested observer
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December 10, 2009
quickquestion....yes you are wrong...Farmhouse is not based on "christian" principles, and I do not believe other fraternities are either. Most are "social" fraternities with extremely varying values and core principles. Farmhouse is a social fraternity dedicated to the building of men...intellectually, socially and morally, physically, and spiritually. So while spirituality is one of the core values, faith in one's God, or an indivduals own religiously beliefs (christianity, catholicism, judaism)is incouraged. FarmHouse urges each man to worship in the tradition of his own Church and in accordance with his own beliefs with tolerance for his brothers.

Clearly you are a hater of the greek system, and evidently the christian faith. You also clearly do not know any of the facts of the article's subject. So please take your hate somewhere else.

quick answer
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December 10, 2009
Yes, almost all Greek fraternities and sororities are formed on Christian values. However, not all Greek organizations take these principles to heart and live them out. Farmhouse members without a doubt live out the Christian beliefs its founders set for them. I am not saying that every single person out of this large group of men exemplify these standards twenty four-seven, but do any of us? No, absolutely not.
quickquestion
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December 10, 2009
correct me if I am wrong, but arn't all fraternities, in their creeds and bylaws, based around christian principles.

So this argument that somehow being a "christian" fraternity means that they can not possibly be "bad people" is kind of mute?

Christians have been responsible for some of the most horrible events in human history. It's not like all of the sudden anybody flying under a christian banner is somehow awesome!

Just saying. Maybe you all should get a different argument cause, again, correct me if I am wrong, if you checked all the greek creeds and histories you will find they are ALL based on christian principles. Not just Farmhouse. Sorry, that would be nice if you were somehow championed by god to set the example, but come on....this is reality. You all are here for one purpose. And it sounds like you got busted. Stop crying
re: "fh is so fake"
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December 10, 2009
Oh sweet heart you are absolutely right. What a group of pigs! I mean they make their pledges learn to be gentlemen and treat women with the highest respect, but totally agreed your experiences on the Tiger Transit must be scarring. Yes, I am mocking you, because I will not stand for you to call this great group of men a bunch of pigs. I am sure you have never said anything ugly about someone of the opposite sex with a group of your girlfriends, because you are a well distinguished person that would never attack such a great group of men over the internet. They ARE a great Christian fraternity, but I appreciate you setting aside your Christian values to accuse them of being fake pigs.

Sincerely,

A FarmHouse girlfriend
FH is so fake
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December 10, 2009
Ok just for the record all of you farmhouse alum/brothers need to stop talking about how farmhouse shapes young men into fine contributors of society and what not. Farmhouses are some of the fakest Greeks in Auburn. They are suppose to be the good christian fraternity, yet they are not gentleman in any way. I ride the transit with farmhouses every day and they're pigs!!! You wouldn't believe the condescending crap they say about girls. They have no respect and they think they're better than everyone else...
a greek
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December 09, 2009
To those who may not be Greek, yet insist on bashing the Greek system every chance they get, you are completely ignorant of the matter and should probably look into the matter before you make general stereotypes. Without fraternities there would be a huge lack of community service, support of outside charities, and attendance at sporting events. Yes there are some that are "Trust fund babies" and whatnot, but for the most part were normal guys who are trying to make the best of our college experience.
FHAlum
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December 08, 2009
I agree with Mr. Kittle that FH should be more focused on the issue at hand and not specifically on suspension. I also agree that FH is second to none across all factors which is well established on and off campus.

But Mr. Kittle, since this organization with such high merit seems to have crossed the 'hazing' definition line (which they subjectively may have) would this not be the tip of the hazing iceberg at Auburn?

May I suggest privately investigating other fraternities with less stellar records or every fraternity at Auburn? (in order to crack down on hazing)

It is logical from a leadership perspective.

I speculate FH will be the least of your problems if you take this leadership position on the issue and look at all Fraternities. I believe you would be shocked.

Should you need help taking this leadership position, I'm sure there are some strong leaders within Farmhouse to help point you in the right direction.

AU Alum
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December 08, 2009
How are the push-ups and physical activities that members of the AU ROTC are subjected to different from optional exercises for which Farmhouse is now being cited? How are the traditions of the AU Band, in which new members are driven across state lines and forced to do exercises and drink alcohol in the middle of the night less egregious than making pledges dress nicely? Why is there such a double standard for a fraternity that has consistently produced campus leaders and successful men for the last two decades? Why do other fraternities which are physically abusive of their pledges get nothing but a slap on the wrist when caught? Today is a sad day to be an Auburn alumni because apparently our administration is more worried about punishing a fraternity for having a pledgeship program which stresses responsibility and character than truly trying to ensure that pledges across Auburn are kept safe.
Spencer Hall
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December 07, 2009
Auburn's handling of this investigation is unprofessional and embarrassing. Administrators need to get rid of the entire Greek system once and for all if they cannot stomach pledges doing "chores" and being asked questions in "interrogations." Such activities are a redemptive part of the pledge experience at good fraternities and detrimental elsewhere, but they are present in every fraternity. It's hypocritical to punish FarmHouse in this scenario because it has been a tremendous fraternity for decades, building men who pursue excellence in every area of life.