Hazing News

“AKA The Hazin’ Cajuns”–Louisiana Lafayette’s Alpha Kappa Alpha now under scrutiny for pledge malpractice: KATC reports

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has lifted suspensions on four fraternities whose activities were halted earlier this year, but university records now show one sorority is under investigation for its own alleged hazing.

Kappa Alpha, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Nu and Theta Xi are all reinstated “based on recommendations from the national organizations,” university spokesperson Charlie Bier said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

Those fraternities were placed on interim suspension in September while the university investigated “reports of conduct that did not comply with policies and procedures of the University and of the four national organizations,” Bier said, adding that the university “supports” the decisions and “will continue to monitor the fraternities.”

Kappa Alpha, Sigma Nu and Theta Xi are on probation and have submitted corrective plans to the university, according to records KATC TV3 obtained through a public records request. Those plans include heightened monitoring and required education programs on conduct.

The documents do not provide in-depth detail about what activities led to those sanctions, but their corrective plans do address behavior common to hazing allegations.

All of Theta Xi’s members are now required to complete courses on topics like alcohol, sexual assault and consent and mental and physical health. Sigma Nu will also complete training on hazing, and alcohol is banned from their facilities until May. Kappa Alpha is requiring at least half of its members to complete online education courses on alcohol and sexual assault. Sigma Alpha Epsilon is now operating under “alumni control.”

Sorority now under investigation

Meanwhile, the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority is under investigation for alleged hazing and other misconduct, according to the records.

Members of the sorority allegedly engaged in an altercation with members of another sorority in October; hazed new members; lied to some students about new membership activities, affecting their ability to participate in the process; and failed to comply with the Office of Greek Life when it requested information about that information, according to correspondence from the sorority’s regional headquarters to the Epsilon Beta chapter at UL-Lafayette.

All of the sorority’s activities are suspended while its higher-ups investigate the allegations, according to the letter,. The sorority’s members are prohibited from meeting, participating in events or wearing any of the sorority’s paraphernalia.

These latest activities in university Greek life come months after fraternity Kappa Sigma was expelled from the university because of hazing allegations that led to the death of another university student, who had no affiliation with Greek life. And in September, the conversation got louder when LSU freshman Maxwell Gruver died after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, allegedly because of hazing.

On Thursday, Gov. John Bel Edwards met with university system leaders in private to discuss the review on their hazing and drug and alcohol abuse policies. Edwards had asked the university systems tor review those policies after Gruver’s death.

“This is not an issue that I or the system presidents are gonna let slip away. This is going to be an ongoing discussion. There’s never gonna be a point in time where we say, ‘Mission accomplished. We’ve reached the finish line.’ Because every year you get new students on these college campuses,” Edwards told media after the meeting.

Documents shed new light on Kappa Sigma investigation

At UL-Lafayette, Kappa Sigma is now subject to legal action on allegations active members forced sleep deprivation on its pledges during the 2016 Homecoming weekend, then forcing some of the pledges to be their designated drivers, according to lawsuits and internal university documents.

One of those pledges ended up falling asleep at the wheel and killing another student, Rustam Nizamutdinov, who was walking along the roadway, according to lawsuits and documents related to the incident. The suits allege both institutions failed to protect pledges from hazing.

In the records KATC TV3 obtained, at least one university official raised concerns about the fraternity’s conduct just one week after Nizamutdinov’s death. The university suspended the fraternity in mid-February and forwarded the hazing allegations to Kappa Sigma headquarters.

By the first week of March, the fraternity told the university it found no evidence of wrongdoing and said it lifted the chapter’s suspension — but the university told the fraternity the suspension would remain in place while it conducted its own investigation, which lasted the next several months.

Kappa Sigma ultimately revoked the chapter’s charter in July. The fraternity said in a statement to KATC TV3 on Wednesday that chapter members initially lied during the fraternity’s internal investigation.

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. 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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