All, earlier this year I wrote that an important statistic had been achieved. No fraternity deaths in the United States had been tallied. More than a statistic, it brought the hope to many (including myself) activists that maybe the anti-hazing message had just maybe gotten through. A death of a Phi Kappa Tau male was unrelated to hazing in a house fire at Nebraska Wesleyan, but serious charges have been levied against three members. Police also filed oharges of hazing, but news reports say the hazing in no way led to the death. This is why for many years (until 2005) tracked all fraternity and athletic and collegiate club deaths though it has led to many harsh criticisms from a handful of Greek alumni who have not seen any sense or purpose to tracking non-hazing deaths. As of today, I’m going back to tracking the non-hazing deaths from suicides (three such deaths later were linked to contributing to a state of mind and exhaustion that possibly played a role in the suicides–though no one can state certainly they were hazing related. A third suicide of a Michigan high school student has similarly followed hazing. Thus, the point is that until more is known about the psychology of hazing, I think there is a need for someone to track the non-hazing death totals to see if there is a mindset for committing certain behaviors such as hazing or intense drinking that can warn advisers a chapter is at risk for a hazing death. Officials at the Oxford, Ohio offices of Phi Kappa Tau, already reeling from the death of a Rider University male a couple of weeks ago, have understandably been shocked by these charges in Nebraska. Here is the KETV story on Phi Kappa Tau from Lincoln:
Lincoln, Neb., Fire and Police authorities released their findings today regarding the Upsilon chapter house fire in November of 2006. While the details of the case are being examined, the chapter will remain on suspended status.
Phi Kappa Tau’s national officers and local Board of Governors members will be working with Nebraska Wesleyan over the weekend to review the evidence provided by the investigation in order to make a decision regarding the status of the chapter.
On Friday afternoon, the following statement was released by Phi Kappa Tau to the local press through Nebraska Wesleyan:
“We would like to thank the Lincoln Fire and Police Departments for their investigation into the Upsilon chapter house fire last November. We are very concerned over the findings that were shared with us this afternoon and will be working over the weekend with our local alumni advisors and Nebraska Wesleyan officials to determine the next steps. We expect a decision to be made quickly and hope to release those details early next week.
In line with our founding principles, mission statement, and creed, the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity has strict policies related to risk management and hazing. We are committed to enriching the lives of our members and to having a positive relationship with the institutions at which we reside.
As we work through the detailed findings of the investigation, Phi Kappa Tau National Fraternity officials and the local alumni advisory board will take appropriate disciplinary action regarding the Upsilon chapter. Regarding any individual citations that have been served by the local authorities, we will wait until these cases are adjudicated through proper channels before determining a course of action.
We would like to once again express our sincere sympathy to the family of Ryan Stewart as well as our deep appreciation for the Lincoln and Nebraska Wesleyan communities for their support of our chapter and its members.”
Upsilon Chapter was chartered in 1923, making it the 20th chapter of Phi Kappa Tau. The chapter has more than 1,500 alumni and has operated continuously for 84 years.
For more information, please contact Steve Hartman, CEO, Phi Kappa Tau, Oxford, Ohio. email@example.com; 513-523-4193 #239.
State News from AP
Student arrested, but not in connection with fatal fire
By NATE JENKINS
Saturday, April 14, 2007 11:49 AM CDT
LINCOLN, Neb. – A member of the Nebraska Wesleyan University fraternity gutted by a fatal blaze in November was arrested Friday for attempted arson, but not in connection with the fire that killed a fellow student.
Twenty-two-year-old Brandon Lovegrove, a senior from Grafton, was arrested on suspicion of attempted first-degree arson, hazing, illegal possession of fireworks and unlawful throwing of fireworks.