LSU gets tougher on fraternities
Max Gruver, an 18-year-old freshman at LSU, was one month into his first year of college when he was forced to chug alcohol during a Phi Delta Theta fraternity initiation game.
With an alcohol level of .495 percent — more than six times the legal limit for drivers — Gruver was pronounced dead at a Baton Rouge hospital after choking on his own vomit.
Gruver’s death should have never happened.
The LSU President’s Greek Life Implementation Committee is working to prevent the same thing from happening to others.
Formed in February and endorsed by President F. King Alexander, the panel has made 28 recommendations to make fraternities safer, among them that students caught hazing will be expelled and the fraternity involved will be kicked off campus.
Other new rules would include banning hard alcohol at fraternity parties, requiring supervision at pledge activities, engaging with alumni to create more chapter oversight and creating a transparency website where disciplinary sanctions for Greek organizations are outlined.
“This is not the end of the process, but the beginning of a new normal for our campus,” Alexander said in a statement.
Since Gruver’s death, four suspects have been indicted in the hazing incident. Ten were originally arrested but the grand jury failed to indict six of them.
Phi Delta Theta has also been banned from LSU’s campus through 2032.
In May, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law the “Max Gruver Act,” which toughens criminal penalties for hazing.
Under the new law, people who take part in hazing activities that result in death when the victim’s blood alcohol level is at least .30 would face up to five years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Hazing that doesn’t lead to death would be subject to fines of up to $1,000 and six months in prison. A hazing conviction under current law carries a maximum $100 fine and 30 days behind bars.
“Certainly, today does not mark the finish line. This is not ‘mission accomplished.’ This is a good start to what is going to be an ongoing process,” Edwards said as he signed the act into law.
LSU’s safety recommendations are a good start, as well, but it’s going to take an entire cultural change when it comes to Greek life before real change will happen. Fraternities have to decide that they are about more than drinking.