Hazing News

UNR Pledge at Sigma Nu dies of head injury

Here is background from the UNR Sagebrush, which I used to be an editor of as a student–Moderator Hank Nuwer


The University of Nevada, Reno, announced Tuesday, Dec. 20 that it has banned the Sigma Nu fraternity from campus for 15 years.

The University’s Office of Student Conduct said in a statement that they made this decision because of violations of the University Student Code of Conduct, the 2016 Relationship Agreement for the Recognition for Social Fraternities and Sororities and the University of Nevada, Reno Residence Based Alcohol Policy.

The University Student Code of Conduct states that the university has the right to investigate and address student conduct issues in incidents that happen in off-campus buildings of organizations that are related to the university.

“At the University of Nevada, Reno our goal is to educate students in a healthy, safe and secure environment,” a UNR said in that statement. “Our policies and Student Code of Conduct are clear: conduct that endangers the health or safety of any member or guest of the University cannot be tolerated.”

The decision follows the investigation into Sigma Nu by the Office of Student Conduct after a freshman pledge, Ryan Abele, sustained injuries from falling down stairs in the fraternity house that eventually caused him to lose his life in October.

Sigma Nu has 10 days to appeal or accept the decision. If they want to appeal it, they will have to request a hearing in front of the Student Conduct Hearing Board. They will remain in interim suspension until they have reached a conclusion.

The UNR Police Services investigated the incident when Abele was in the hospital and found there was not any foul play.

“We responded to the hospital after receiving a call from them that this young man had fallen down stairs,” said Assistant Chief Todd Renwick to the East Bay Times. “… We’ve looked into the incident, and it appears to just be an accident.”

Sigma Nu’s national office is also investigating the death of Abele and told UNR they will reach a decision about the Delta Xi chapter in January.

“The Fraternity’s investigation of the activities of the Delta Xi Chapter remains ongoing,” said Executive Director Brad Beacham in a statement released about UNR’s decision. “Upon completion of its investigation, the Fraternity will take whatever action may be appropriate. Sigma Nu Fraternity remains committed to its principles and to its mission of developing ethical leaders.”

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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