ONEONTA _ A Hartwick sorority that for years ran a haunted house on Maple Street on Halloween was "de-recognized" by Hartwick College administrators on Wednesday afternoon just before the event was to happen.
Alpha Omicron Pi was on probation for a hazing-related incident when the group violated school policy for a second time, said John Anderson, Hartwick's executive vice president and provost.
Students at the Alpha Omicron Pi house at 17 Maple St. said Thursday they were stunned by the decision.
Alpha Omicron Pi President Meghan Buckner said she and the other members were reluctant to talk on the record about what happened because the national Alpha Omicron Pi organization had filed an appeal on their behalf.
But some members said the second violation was the result of a haunted house committee meeting and not a recruitment event. They said they were not given any details about why they were disciplined for hazing in the first instance.
Anderson declined to give any details about either incident but said the hazing only violated school policy and not New York state penal law.
"It could wind up getting appealed," Anderson said. "It is in that appeal window."
Alpha Omicron Pi has five business days from Oct. 31 to appeal, he said.
Buckner said the sorority was formed in 1952 and began living at 17 Maple St. in 1962.
"As an unrecognized Greek organization, if the members choose to remain together, they are not allowed to conduct activities on the college's campus, including pledge recruitment," said Hartwick President Richard Miller in a campus-wide e-mail. "Violations of these sanctions can result in penalties to individuals who are found responsible, up to and including expulsion."
The group can apply for recognition status for the fall 2009 semester, Anderson said.
"This is a temporary suspension," he said.
The sorority members said the timing of the school's decision was suspicious because they were about to host their annual Halloween haunted house for neighborhood children out trick-or-treating. The members said they received word of the decision at 4:55 p.m. Wednesday, five minutes before Hartwick College offices closed for the day.
The members said they instead handed out candy to children from their front porch.
Because the Alpha Omicron Pi house is operated under the city's special-use permit process for Greek housing, city officials Thursday night said the status of that permit was unclear.
The permits allow for a higher occupancy limit than what would normally be allowed in a house occupied by college students and also set safety standards.
Mayor John Nader said college officials notified him of the action Wednesday night and said there were no immediate plans to enforce the occupancy limit if the special-use permit was invalidated by the college's action.
Thirteen Alpha Omicron Pi members live at the house.
First Ward Alderman Maureen Hennessy, who works with Greek organizations that have off-campus houses, said she knew of no previous problems with the sorority and was surprised to hear of their suspension.