ST. PETER — Four of Gustavus Adolphus College's Greek organizations are suspended for a year or more, reportedly for violating the school's hazing and sexual harassment policies.

At least some of the suspended sorority and fraternity members say college administrators unfairly scrutinize their organizations and overreacted to minor violations. They said they chose not to challenge the suspensions because they felt intimidated by the investigators.

A spokesman for the college confirmed that multiple student organizations were suspended but declined to provide any further information.

"In the interest of student privacy, it is not our practice to identify individuals or organizations who may be involved in conduct matters or make public any sanctions that may be assigned in the case of conduct proceedings," said JJ Akin, director of media relations and internal communication.

Akin added that suspended organizations are prohibited from participating in any official college activities, including fundraising and recruiting new members.

Multiple students reported that the organizations suspended last month for one year were the Phi Alpha and Omega Kappa fraternities and the Delta Phi Omega sorority. The Tau Mu Tau Sorority was suspended for three years.

Tau Mu Tau member Shelby Pankratz and Omega Kappa member Tim Clementson said their organizations as well as Delta Phi Omega were suspended over some questionable song lyrics. The Greek organizations have a tradition of having "sing-off" competitions with original songs, they said. They admit some of the songs contain sexually suggestive content or reference drinking.

In Tau Mu Tau, Pankratz said many of the songs in question have been sung since the sorority was established over a century ago.

Prospective members were taught the songs but weren't forced to sing along this fall, according to Pankratz, who was one of her sorority's recruitment leaders.

“We were accused of sexual harassment and hazing, when in reality no member, new or active, of our organization felt that they were subject to this ill treatment,” she said. “Instead, the school decided to look into our process because they disagreed with our 114-year-old traditions.”

Omega Kappa also was investigated for a tradition of playfully “kidnapping” the fraternity president, Clementson said. The president is taken out for a night on the town, he said. His group was fined $1,000 for the consensual act, according to Clementson.

The college hired attorneys who interrogated them as if they were criminals, said Pankratz, Clementson and Tau Mu Tau Co-president Julia Rydberg.

"We were accused and questioned about everything in a negative and judgmental matter," Rydberg said. "The entire point of this investigation was to ensure a safe community on campus, yet I never felt like my rights were more violated than by the procedure the school followed."

The sorority sisters said the interviews left them afraid to contest the recommended three-year suspension, even though they believe it's excessive.

“I’ve never been so hurt and wronged in my short 20-year-long life, and what’s worse is that it’s coming from the institution that I love,” Pankratz said.

Clementson said he and his brothers feared protesting their suspension would lead to additional unreasonable individual sanctions.

Rydberg and Clementson said they believe their school's hazing policy is too broad.

"It includes anything intentional or unintentional, with or without consent, in any instance there is a power differential," Rydberg said. Under that standard, she said, professors, coaches and other student leaders could be judged in violation as well.

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