Two weeks after LSU fraternity pledge Maxwell Gruver was declared dead after a night of drinking at the Phi Delta Theta house, school officials have created a task force to review policies governing fraternities and sororities with an eye on eliminating dangerous behavior.
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"Many of our Greek organizations represent all that is good about our university. They volunteer, fundraise for charities and provide opportunities for students to make lifelong connections that extend far beyond their time at LSU," President F. King Alexander said in a statement Friday. "However, a small minority of these groups engage in behavior that undermines all these benefits, and that will be identified and discontinued."
While an investigation is still pending into Gruver's exact cause of death, LSU officials have sharply signaled they want a culture change as it relates to Greek life. Officials have said investigators are looking at the possibility that hazing was a factor in Gruver's death.
"It is important to understand that there will be no return to 'normal,'" Alexander said, echoing sentiments made last week by the LSU Greek Life Director Angela Guillory. "Student safety is always our primary concern. Greek organizations are a valuable part of campus life at LSU, but hazing and other dangerous behavior will not be tolerated."
The 11-member panel has five student leaders, administrators, a faculty member and two non-LSU employees. The group is being chaired by LSU Foundation board member Rob Stuart, an alumnus and local businessman.
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The group will review the past and current practices, governance and oversight of Greek life, as well as other student organizations.
Immediately following Gruver's death, Alexander announced a suspension of all Greek activities, ranging from philanthropy to social functions. Currently, the ban on new member activities and parties is still in effect. But charity work and Greek tailgates for football games are allowed, with new, stricter rules in effect for tailgates.
Gruver, 18, of Roswell, Georgia, was pronounced dead at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital on Sept. 14, after he spent the night drinking with other members of the fraternity.
Last week, LSU Police Department and the university released a redacted, five-sentence police report. This week, The Advocate challenged some of the redactions, confirming that Gruver was among other pledges and current frat members in the house who were also drinking.
Maxwell Gruver, the LSU fraternity pledge who died last week, was found unresponsive at the …
"It is known that several pledges and active members were at the house consuming alcohol," the unredacted report said. Most of the students pledging the fraternity were likely new freshmen, like Gruver, and therefore probably under the legal age to consume alcohol.
The fraternity members and pledges were gathered at the house on a Wednesday night. LSU confirmed Phi Delta Theta had not registered a party at their house that night, which is required of student organizations.
LSU policy allows students who are 21-years-old and older to have alcohol in their rooms if they live on campus. However, Phi Delta Theta's national organization maintains an alcohol-free housing policy.
After Gruver's death, the organization revoked the LSU chapter's charter, citing a violation of the alcohol policy.
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The police report said Gruver was found unresponsive after a night of drinking, and a preliminary autopsy found high levels of alcohol in Gruver's bloodstream. However, a cause and time of death have yet to be determined.
Gruver's death is still under investigation by LSU police and LSU administrators.