LSU fraternity lands in hot water over drugs, possibly hazing; university places it on ‘interim suspension’ _lowres

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Unidentified young men stand on the porch of the Sigma Chi house on LSU's campus, Thursday, November 12, 2015, in Baton Rouge, La.

LSU has placed the Sigma Chi fraternity on interim suspension while it investigates allegations of hazing activities and an incident in which illegal drugs were allegedly used at the chapter’s house.

D. Matthew Gregory, associate dean of students, sent the Sigma Chi chapter president, Clayton Furr, a letter Nov. 3 informing him that the university ordered the suspension because it was under investigation for potential violations of the LSU Code of Student Conduct.

Gregory said part of the suspension is a result of an Oct. 17 incident that involved the use of controlled substances in the chapter house, as well as potential hazing activities, though he did not provide further detail.

Ernie Ballard, LSU’s director of media relations, said Thursday there is no police report about the Oct. 17 incident.

“There wasn’t police involvement as the investigation began internally by Sigma Chi,” Ballard said.

He did not provide any further details about the incident.

Kurt Keppler, LSU vice president for student life and enrollment, said Thursday the university is doing a “thorough investigation” of Sigma Chi.

“LSU takes any and all reports of incidents seriously and will not tolerate violations of our students’ well-being and safety,” Keppler said.

He also said he appreciated the involvement of “the national fraternity organization to ensure these types of incidents don’t occur and their quick action taken if an issue arises.”

Sigma Chi International, based in Evanston, Illinois, said in a Friday press release the chapter has been placed on a period of interim suspension while it is being investigated. The release says several proposals are under consideration to make sure “... the fraternal experience is consistent with the values of the fraternity.”

The release quotes Furr as saying, “We are working closely with Greek Life at LSU and our General Fraternity Headquarters to insure that our chapter presents a safe and drug free environment.”

In cases involving sororities and fraternities, Greek Life initiates the investigation, and, when warranted, the Student Advocacy and Accountability Office issues an interim suspension, which is what occurred in this case, Ballard said.

The suspension forbids new members and initiated members from interacting to discuss the investigation and does not allow the chapter to host or participate in any social activities, including tailgating, socials and parties off or on campus.

The chapter may, however, host ritual meetings to educate new members with alumni advisers present, participate in intramural activities and have meals at the house, the letter says.

Ballard said vacating the house is not being discussed at this time.

“If any further incidents occur,” Gregory wrote in the letter to Furr, “you will continue to jeopardize the future of the chapter and you, as the executive member, may be charged with failure to comply with a university official.”

The suspension comes after LSU’s Acacia fraternity was booted from campus in March, at least through 2018, following an investigation into allegations of hazing. The university said it confirmed there was forced alcohol consumption and physical violence, as well as other Student Code violations.

The Sigma Chi chapter house is at 27 Dalrymple Drive.

The fraternity has 150 members, Ballard said.

Follow Danielle Maddox Kinchen on Twitter, @Dani_Maddox4.

Editor’s note: The story was changed on Nov. 13 to include comments from Sigma Chi International.