Fraternity Hazing: Summer, 2019
At most colleges and universities, the student body during the summer semester is usually comprised of 1) “serious” students who are trying to stay ahead of their course requirements or 2) college athletes trying to maintain their academic eligibility. Summer semester also marks the quietest time of the year for host schools to order fraternity suspensions due to hazing and other types of irresponsible behavior.
At The Doan Law Firm, our in-house database recorded six disciplinary actions levied against fraternities this summer, with Sigma Chi accounting for two suspensions "pending investigation" (UC San Diego and Cal State Fresno). We also noted that one former fraternity member (Matthew Naquin, Phi Delta Theta @ LSU) was convicted on a charge of felony negligent homicide in the 2017 fraternity hazing death of Maxwell Gruver, and that West Virginia University and the WVU chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon were named as a defendant in a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed by the parents of David Rusko, a 22-year-old student who suffered catastrophic injuries after a fall at the SAE fraternity house in November of 2018.
Delta Tau Delta
On August 8th, Miami (Ohio) announced that its local chapter of Delta Tau Delta had been suspended for a maximum of 15 years and cannot petition for return until no earlier than March 16th, 2029. According to the school, DTD’s national headquarters had suspended the local chapter’s charter in June of this year after an investigation conducted by the school found that a pledge had been beaten with a spiked paddle in addition to being forced to consume alcohol and marijuana.
Local Fraternity Chapter Closed
Pi Kappa Phi
On July 1, the University of Maryland announced that it had withdrawn the local chapter’s status as a recognized student organization and that the national headquarters of Pi Kappa Phi had also revoked the local chapter’s charter. According to statements published in the university’s student newspaper, The Diamondback, the decision to order the fraternity to close was “… not the result of one specific incident or event… [but due to] accumulated concerns over the past few years.”
“DFSL [Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life]staff communicated the seriousness of the situation with the chapter leadership, but the necessary improvements were not achieved…” the email “Unfortunately, it is sometimes necessary to remove recognition when a chapter is not able to make the required change in culture.”
Fraternity Member Convicted
Phi Delta Theta
As we noted in a previous post, on July 17 Matthew Naquin was convicted of felony negligent homicide for his role in the hazing death of Maxwell Gruver. Naquin is also currently awaiting trial on a charge of felony obstruction related to his alleged deliberate deletion of files and other data from his cellphone that were being subpoenaed as evidence in his first trial.
West Virginia University
Sigma Alpha Epsilon
Our records also documented the Summer, 2019, semester filing of a multi-million dollar lawsuit against West Virginia University and the local chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon over the catastrophic injury suffered by 22-year-old David Rusko after he fell at the SAE fraternity house last November. The lawsuit documents the fact that his fraternity “brothers” deliberately did not call local EMS until almost two hours after Rusko’s fall, causing him to suffer extensive brain injuries leading to severe physical disability.
Campus-wide Fraternity Actions
In July, Virginia Tech released a “Fraternity and Sorority Life Task Force Report” cautioning students to avoid off-campus fraternities that are not recognized by WVU because they were suspended by VT because of the fraternities’ previous actions created “unsafe cultures.” The school admitted that it was powerless to do anything other than issue a caution because most of those fraternities continue to operate with the support of their national organizations.
University of Buffalo
Following the April death of 19-year-old Sebastian Serafin-Bazan, Buffalo imposed a campus-wide ban on “Greek Life” activities. On August 21, the school announced that its “review committee” had recommended “greater oversight” of on-campus fraternities and sororities.
Was Your Child a Victim of Fraternity Hazing?
Regular visitors to our fraternity hazing blog know that many colleges and universities are very good at “making statements” and promising “reforms” after a fraternity hazing incident leads to an injury, or even a death, where a fraternity is directly involved. Those readers also know that, after such incidents, the host schools usually allow the involved fraternity to continue operations after receiving what amounts to nothing more than a “bad boys, go to your rooms without supper” warning.
If your son was the victim of a fraternity hazing injury we invite you to contact the fraternity hazing lawyer at The Doan Law Firm, a national personal injury law practice with offices located throughout the country, to discuss the facts in your son’s injury case and learn about the legal options that may be available to you.
When you contact our firm, your case review and first consultation with our fraternity hazing lawyer is always free and does not obligate you hiring us to act as your legal counsel. Should you decide to file a lawsuit against those responsible for your injuries or other losses, and that you would like to have us represent you in court, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.