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Alpha Tau Omega national office revokes charter, shuts down IU chapter over sexually explicit video

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (Oct. 7, 2015) – The National Office of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity revoked the charter and closed the Delta Alpha chapter at Indiana University, the group announced Thursday.

Indiana University had suspended the fraternity following an investigation involving sexual misconduct. The incident, which first circulated on Twitter via a sexually explicit video, is under investigation.

ATO letters removed from house Thursday after national office shuts down IU frat (photo credit: Kendall Downing)

ATO letters removed from house Thursday after national office shuts down IU frat (photo credit: Kendall Downing)

ATO National CEO Wynn Smiley said "this video speaks for itself." In a statement, he described it "highly inappropriate" and "vulgar." The video was taken during an unauthorized event and involved an initiated member, not a pledge. The women seen in the video were exotic dancers hired by a member. Wynn sent a statement regarding the video:

“The National Office of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity has revoked the charter and closed the Delta Alpha chapter at Indiana University following the release of a highly inappropriate and vulgar video.

“The video from a smartphone shows a sex act that occurred last week. The event was unauthorized involving about half of the chapter’s membership. The National Fraternity investigation revealed the 21 year old man in the video was an initiated member, not a pledge, and the two women in the video were exotic dancers hired by one of the members. Our investigation revealed that no pledge was compelled to participate. Regardless, the actions are contrary to the ideals and principles of Alpha Tau Omega and are highly offensive.

“The National Fraternity, with strong encouragement from local alumni advisors, investigated the incident and took swift disciplinary action. The revocation of the charter means the chapter is closed, effective immediately and all chapter activities must cease. The National Fraternity will con- tinue to work closely with Indiana University officials.”

Indiana University officials commended Alpha Tau Omega for taking "swift and strong" action in response to the video. The university provided a statement Thursday afternoon:

Indiana University has just been informed by the national leadership of Alpha Tau Omega that it has revoked the charter of the local chapter on the IU Bloomington campus and ordered the chapter to cease all activities and disband immediately.

The university applauds the national chapter’s swift and strong action and is in full agreement with this decision. The office of the Dean of Students and IU Police Department are prepared to work closely with the national ATO organization to facilitate this action.

Indiana University’s Office of Student Ethics will continue to investigate this issue as it relates to potential violations of the university code of student conduct.

The university added that IU's Alpha Tau Omega chapter doesn't technically exist after the national office's decision to revoke its charter. Therefore, the university's investigation will focus on the individual actions of students in the video and potential student code of conduct violations.

Students remained stunned during the day Thursday, with many of them gathering around ATO's house and taking pictures as crews pulled letters off the outside and covered an exterior sign, reported FOX59's Kendall Downing.

"It certainly doesn't look good for IU. I also realize that this is a school of 40,000 students, and you can't let one group of students' bad actions speak for the whole school,” said sophomore Allie Hitchcock.

By Thursday afternoon, some members of ATO packed up belongings and left the house. Though, with fall break running from October 9th until October 11th, it was unclear for how long they were leaving the house. ATO nationals would not specify how long members could stay in the home.

"I got texts from friends at colleges across the country. They already know about it. It looks bad on everybody here,” said sophomore Jake Milwit, who said he’s a member of another fraternity on campus.

“It represents Indiana University and just trashes the name. It’s ridiculous,” Milwit said.

FOX59's Jill Glavan reported Thursday night that some ATO members were making obscene gestures and yelling toward media gathered outside.

Earlier Thursday, the university provided a statement saying it was investigating the incident:

On Oct. 7, allegations of hazing were brought against members of the Alpha Tau Omega chapter on the Indiana University Bloomington campus. The allegations, of which there appears to be credible video evidence, include a purported new chapter member being encouraged to perform a sex act on a female in the presence of several other chapter members.

Indiana University takes its responsibility to foster a culture of care and respect among the students on its campuses extremely seriously. If true, the alleged actions on the part of some members of the Alpha Tau Omega chapter run completely contrary to that commitment. They also would represent violations of the university's student code of conduct and will not be tolerated.

As a result of these allegations, the decision was made to order the chapter to cease and desist all activities immediately pending a full investigation. Notification of the suspension was made to chapter leadership and to the ATO national leadership on the evening of Oct. 7.

The investigation is ongoing, and in order to preserve the integrity of the adjudicative process, the university will have no further comment at this time.

According to national chapter's CEO, Alpha Tau Omega was investigated in 2010 for hazing and serving alcohol to minors. During that investigation, 100 members were kicked out.

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