“There are allegations that Maxwell’s death was related to hazing, but I want to emphasize this is an evolving situation,” Alexander said during a news conference Thursday evening in Baton Rouge. “We are investigating this matter with the utmost seriousness.”
Alcohol, he said, “is indeed part of the allegations.”
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Hazing, an initiation ritual in which Greek pledges are often humiliated and tortured, has been banned by some national fraternities and universities. The act has been outlawed in many states, but deaths are still attributed to the archaic practice.
In previous hazing-related incidents, such as the death of 19-year-old Penn State sophomore Tim Piazza, pledges were forced to consume massive amounts of alcohol. He died in February.
In Piazza’s case, he became so intoxicated that he fell repeatedly down stairs and died of irreversible spleen and brain stem damage, according to the district attorney.
Eight fraternity brothers faced serious charges, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, The AJC previously reported. Their Penn State fraternity is now closed.
Alexander said Thursday that hazing will not be tolerated at LSU and all Greek activities — “that means pledging and all social activities on and off campus” — were immediately suspended indefinitely by the university. The fraternity’s national headquarters took similar action against the Phi Delta Theta chapter at LSU.
“We’re committed to investigating this situation thoroughly,” Bob Biggs, executive vice president and CEO of Phi Delta Theta, said in a statement. “The chapter and any individuals who are found to have violated our policies will be held accountable.”
The LSU chapter was founded in 1938 and was suspended in 2004 for low recruitment by the national headquarters, according to The Daily Reveille. It returned to campus in 2006.
An autopsy is set for Friday.
“As we have continually warned over and over again, hazing is dangerous, irresponsible and unacceptable,” Alexander said.