Hazing News

Investigative article by News 15 produces evidence that a Lafayette (LA) student from Russia was killed by sleep deprived pledge

Rustam Nizamutdinov.  Dean of Students Marguarita Perez ducks all questions about his death, according to News 15. 

Excerpt from News 15

It’s been a year since 25-year-old Rustam Nizamutdinov, an international student at UL, was killed when he was hit by a vehicle while walking on the shoulder of Johnston Street.

Now, after the university suspended or put several of its fraternities on probation for hazing and other violations earlier this year, new details about the crash are surfacing.

News 15 got the accident report from that night and uncovered that the driver, who was pledging for Kappa Sigma last November, was “fatigued” at the time of the crash.

Last year, from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5, was Hell Week for Kappa Sigma pledges. Pledges were required to stay awake for almost the entire week, leaving many of them sleep-deprived. Some of them also had to be designated drivers which caused three accidents that weekend, one of which took Nizamutdinov’s life. It was around 1 a.m. on Nov. 6 when Kappa Sigma pledge Michael Gallagher Jr., fell asleep behind the wheel and hit Nizamutdinov, a utility pole, and a LUS Fiber junction box before his Toyota Tundra came to rest in a grassy area near the intersection of Johnston and Leonie streets.

Police did report that fatigue was a contributing factor but Gallagher was only given a citation for careless operation.

Despite the death of one its students and a documented case of hazing that lead to Kappa Sigma’s suspension, UL is staying tight-lipped about problems on fraternity row. To date .. the university has suspended two fraternities for various infractions and placed two others on probation.

On September 29 Dean of Students Marguarita Perez said this of the suspension of the fraternities: “Their national organization revoked their charter. You would have to address any questions to them,”

Monday, when we reached out to the university, Perez said she could not comment without approval from the UL’s Office of Communications and Marketing.

As of Tuesday morning the university has not cleared Perez to talk to us.

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-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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