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Good journalism about a bad coverup: Another hazing death–covered up one year

Emails Show How UL Kept Its Kappa Sigma Hazing Investigation Under Wraps For Nearly A Year

One day after the University of Louisiana at Lafayette publicly acknowledged that hazing from Kappa Sigma may have led to the tragic crash that killed an international UL student back in 2016, News 15 is uncovering how the university kept its hazing investigation under wraps.

Although the general public didn’t know of Kappa Sigma’s suspension until News 15 reported on it in late September, a draft of the letter notifying the UL Greek Community of the suspension had been circulating in Martin Hall since early August.

The letter urged Greeks to not comment outside of the community instead referring all media request to the Office of Communications and Marketing.

One Dean of Student personnel, Heidi Lindsey emailed the Dean of Students, Margarita Perez, on August 14th saying, “We’re ready to send this, just in case someone leaks it, do you want Aaron to know that we’re sending this?”

Aaron Martin is the Chief Communications Officer of the university.

Other media outlets also contacted the university about the investigation in late August.

Perez then told Martin that the Dean of Students personnel who received the emails quote knows not to respond until we tell them.

Out of dozens of pages we’ve received from UL about its investigation, not one of them had a response from Martin.

In defense of the university, the Assistant Dean of Students, Erica Schwartz sent an email to a kappa sigma representative expressing concern immediately after the crash that took Rustam Nizamutdinov’s life.

In February, after the Kappa Sigma national organization had cleared the UL chapter of any wrongdoing and was ready to reinstate its charter, the administration shut down that effort and kept the chapter on suspension while it performed its own investigation, which it presented to the national organization at the end of April.

In July, the UL chapter was expelled from the Kappa Sigma organization.

According to documents from the university, four of its other fraternities, Theta Xi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Nu and Kappa Alpha, are either operating on a probational basis or under suspension.

Theta XI, Sigma Nu and Kappa Alpha are allowed to operate within supervisory restrictions, while Sigma Alpha Epsilon is suspended, with no further documentation of its status given.

One sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, is currently under suspension after its regional office received reports of fighting, hazing and falsification of reports.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily--http://realalaskadaily.com and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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