LSU has suspended yet another fraternity amid years of turmoil within the university's Greek system, including investigations, arrests and public outcry over hazing allegations.
University officials confirmed this week that LSU's Pi Kappa Phi chapter will be closed until May 2023 after university police issued misdemeanor charges last month against three members. The suspension means the university is forcing fraternity members out of their brick house on West Lakeshore Drive. And Pi Kappa Phi's national organization also suspended the chapter's charter during that same time period.
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Pi Kappa Phi has been on an interim suspension since last fall, though the chapter was also previously disciplined in fall 2017 — just one month after the hazing death of freshman Phi Delta Theta pledge Max Gruver, which thrust LSU's Greek system into the national spotlight. More recent arrest warrants for several members of Delta Kappa Epsilon — and the decision to revoke that chapter's charter at the beginning of 2019 — painted a picture of violent hazing rituals there and an overarching code of silence.
Of the 27 fraternities listed on LSU's Greek Life scorecard this spring, six have been kicked off campus. At least a dozen had discipline recorded against them or were under police investigation this spring.
Four fraternities have been booted from campus since Gruver's death: Phi Delta Theta, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Pi Kappa Phi and Lambda Chi. Two others are still not allowed back at LSU based on their problems in the years before Gruver's death: Omega Psi Phi and Kappa Alpha Psi.
University officials have provided few specifics about the actions at Pi Kappa Phi that led to its suspension this week. LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said only that the details included "hazing and other misconduct."
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But LSU has logged at least six complaints against the fraternity since 2016, based on records the university provided to The Advocate through a recent public records request.
One person complained just a few months ago that they saw pledges going into the fraternity house with alcohol, despite the interim suspension. Another complaint from the fall semester of 2017 said pledges were forced to drink on bid night until they threw up.
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In a letter to chapter members dated May 17, LSU administrators wrote that investigators found students had violated several university policies, including hazing, endangerment, alcohol use, coercive behavior and failure to comply. The letter notes members were also investigated for drug use but were found not responsible.
"Student members are expected to uphold the codes of conduct of both the university and Pi Kappa Phi," the fraternity's CEO Mark Timmes said in a statement Monday. "Their behavior was unacceptable and does not represent the values of Pi Kappa Phi. We hold chapters and individual members accountable for the choices they make through our conduct process."
Three misdemeanor summonses for hazing were issued to Pi Kappa Phi members on April 3 — more than month before the suspension was announced. The summonses simply list the charges being brought but do not include details about the allegations.
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LSU's latest investigation into Pi Kappa Phi started in October 2018, when the chapter was placed on interim suspension amid claims that Ballard called "very serious." That was almost exactly one year after another interim suspension in October 2017 — one month after Gruver's death — for a social event that violated new restrictions on Greek activities.
If Pi Kappa Phi wants to return to LSU in 2023, members will have to follow a series of requirements, according to the May 17 letter. But most, if not all, current members would have moved on by then.
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Those include meeting with administrators to develop a plan for "successful reinstatement as a registered student organization" and the selection of an alumni chapter advisory team to help oversee the process. The national organization would also have to provide a staff member, 25 years of age or older, who will live in the chapter house and "work with the fraternity on a full-time basis for not less than one academic year."
Until then, the fraternity is not allowed to sponsor any activities or solicit or initiate new members.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said LSU logged six complaints against Pi Kappa Phi since 2017. The complaints date back to 2016.
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