LSU death calls attention to hazing issues on campus

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Four days after Louisiana State University suspended all Greek activities in response to the suspected hazing death of a student, the Office of the Dean of Students reminded the UT community of UT’s hazing regulations via a campus-wide email Monday morning.

The email, sent out by the Office of the Dean of Students, outlines the Texas Hazing Statute and UT’s hazing regulations. Jess Cybulski, assistant director of communications for the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, said the email is sent out around the same time every semester by requirement of state law and was not sent in response to the incident.

LSU Phi Delta Theta pledge Maxwell Gruver died Thursday in what is being investigated as a hazing incident, said LSU media relations director Ernie Ballard said in an email. The school suspended all Greek organizations later in the day until the investigation yielded further results. 

“I want to emphasize that this is an evolving situation,” LSU President F. King Alexander said in a statement. “We are investigating this matter with the utmost seriousness. As we have continually warned, hazing is dangerous and unacceptable. It will not be tolerated at LSU.”

Cherie Amour Pittman, marketing coordinator for the UT Office of the Dean of Students, said the email was meant to reinstate the University’s hazing policy.

“We always want to make sure that the students are up to date on what is expected,” Pittman said. “And we’re always wanting to make sure that students are safe on our campus. That’s definitely one of our priorities.”

Twenty-two UT organizations have been disciplined for hazing both on and off campus in the past three years, according to the email. This includes the UT chapter of Phi Delta Theta, which is currently suspended until Dec. 23 and has been disciplined for more than one hazing violation in the past three years. It is one of just two organizations on the list to receive suspension as a punishment. 

Pittman said information on why the fraternity was suspended is unavailable to students. 

Phi Delta Theta announced online Monday it would be formally suspending and removing its LSU chapter based on early findings that revealed some members violated the policy restricting alcohol from being present in any chapter houses. TIME Magazine reported a preliminary autopsy found a high blood alcohol level and the presence of marijuana in Gruver’s blood.

Biology senior Emma Meyer said she has heard accounts of hazing by UT organizations through word of mouth during her time at UT. 

Meyer was a member of the spirit group Texas Angels and said she interacted with Greek life often. She said hazing affects the entire student body, not just those involved in fraternities or sororities. 

“(Hazing) is not really just about Greek life, it’s kind of the safety of all people,” Meyer said. “Not just Greek life goes to Greek parties … it’s about the entire student population.”

Alexander said the LSU community is grieving Gruver’s death.

“The death of Maxwell Gruver was tragic and untimely,” Alexander said. “A young man’s life was cut short last night, and we mourn his loss and the possible impact he would have made on the world. Our deepest sympathies and prayers go to his family and friends.”