More than a year after Maxwell Gruver’s hazing-related death, LSU’s fraternities continue to rack up misconduct allegations leading to suspensions.
The university last week officially placed Pi Kappa Phi fraternity on interim suspension “as a result of incidents that have occurred during Fall 2018.” The university is currently conducting an investigation of the chapter regarding “potential violations of the LSU Code of Student Conduct.”
This announcement marks the second time this semester that the university has placed a fraternity under investigation for possible violations. An interim suspension from the national chapter of Pi Kappa Phi followed suit on Oct. 12.
The university would not provide specifics as to what prompted the suspension. Ernie Ballard, a spokesman for LSU, did confirm that “the allegations against Pi Kappa Phi are very serious.”
“We do not take violations of our Student Code of Conduct lightly,” he said. “We cannot go into specific details at this time, but the university will fully investigate the claims. If they are substantiated, then appropriate action will be taken.”
Asked if the Pi Kappa Phi allegations involved hazing, Victor Tran, interim assistant executive director of communication for the Pi Kappa Phi national fraternity, said that “Pi Kappa Phi takes all allegations of hazing seriously.”
He added, “We are working with the University and have instructed our students to cooperate openly and honestly. We are cooperating fully with the university and expect our students to do the same.”
A year ago, in October 2017, Pi Kappa Phi was also placed on interim suspension for “a social event that was not in compliance with the Greek Life Status Update dated Oct. 4, 2017.”
The Oct. 4 update was a memo to Greek students that lifted a ban on social events with alcohol, but required Greek organizations to attend training on risk management policy and social events.
LSU had allowed Greek organizations to resume events with alcohol on Oct. 12 of that year in exchange for the compliance with the new training regulations. Pi Kappa Phi’s alcohol violation is dated Oct. 13, 2017.
This year's interim suspension of Pi Kappa Phi is the second one for a fraternityh at LSU for the fall semester. In August, Delta Chi fraternity was also placed on an interim suspension from both the university and their national chapter.
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Ballard said in an email dated Aug. 27 that initial information gathered by the university did not indicate hazing at Delta Chi, “but a thorough investigation is taking place.”
The Delta Chi investigation is ongoing.
Jonathan Sanders, associate dean of students, said that interim suspensions result from any reports of misconduct. These sources can come from anonymous individuals, police reports and the university’s online reporting system, LSU Cares.
In the aftermath of Gruver’s death, LSU President F. King Alexander created the President’s Task Force on Greek Life to research and prevent further infractions from the Greek community. One outcome of the task force’s work was the Student Organization Uniform Code of Infractions, an addendum to the LSU Student Code of Conduct.
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The Uniform Code outlines three distinct levels of student organization violations, from minor alcohol infractions to hazing and sexual misconduct.
Levels two and three involve action from the LSU office of student advocacy and accountability, which falls under Sanders.
In an email from Sanders sent to the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity president, the interim suspension restricts contact between new members and initiated members and cancels all chapter social events, intramural activities and meetings.
Local chapter presidents for Pi Kappa Phi and Delta Chi did not respond to a request for comment.
Interfraternity Council President Christopher Dupré said that an interim suspension does not necessarily indicate wrongdoing. Chapters are not suspended because they did something wrong, but rather so university officials “can get to the bottom of it.”
Since the death of LSU fraternity pledge Maxwell Gruver in September, the university’s Greek organizations have been under increased scrutiny.
“Any time an allegation comes up, the university will press pause,” Dupré said.
Updates about the status of fraternity suspensions can be viewed on the LSU Greek Life portal “Greek Life Scorecard.” Despite their status under interim suspension, both Delta Chi and Pi Kappa Phi have a score of “silver.”
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