LSU announces some Greek activities to resume Sunday; attorney questions initial suspension

Franz Borghardt (Source: WAFB)
Franz Borghardt (Source: WAFB)
Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Spokesperson Ernie Ballard confirmed Thursday night that some Greek activities will resume at LSU Sunday after a suspension was issued in the wake of the death of a fraternity pledge.

A suspension of all Greek activities on campus was issued after an 18-year-old student, Maxwell Gruver, died in what is being investigated as a possible hazing incident. Some activities, such as chapter activities that serve a philanthropic purpose and some alumni activities, will resume on Sunday, September 24.

The LSU community is still in a tailspin of emotions one week after the investigation into Gruver's death was launched and allegations of possible hazing surfaced. At a September 14 news conference, university president, F. King Alexander, came out strong about the allegations, suspending all activities indefinitely.

"All Greek activities are suspended indefinitely pending the results of a thorough investigation," he said.

Less than a week after that statement, the university launched what they called a "week of reflection" and released a letter to students prohibiting a number of Greek events and functions, including social and service activities.

Franz Borghardt, local civil rights attorney, says at first, he wanted to support the idea, but after taking a closer look at the letter, he believes it raises some questions. He now thinks the school went too far. "It made a policy calling for no philanthropy, no community service events, and no fundraisers," said Borghardt. "It starts tap dancing on some serious constitutional and some civil rights. What it essentially does is it stifles first amendment rights of free speech and the right to assemble."

As the investigation into whether hazing is in fact to blame in this case, Borghardt wants to be clear that the loss of the young student is a tragedy, but he believes taking away someone's rights is not the way to tackle a hazing problem.

"Should everyone be reflecting on what happened? Absolutely," he said. "I don't have any disagreement with what they're intending to do, but that intention can't trample over constitutional rights."

WAFB's Scottie Hunter asked for an interview with the university's president Thursday to ask his opinion on those claims and to seek clarification on a timeline for the suspension of Greek activities. A spokesman told 9News Alexander was unavailable, but did release the following statement:

We feel that a period of reflection is both appropriate and necessary. We are confident that the approach we are taking is both fitting and lawful.

LSU's student government hosted an anti-hazing rally today at Memorial Tower. Their message was in step with the school's.

"Small things that we tolerate, while they may seem innocent and fun, they grow into much larger things," said Student Government President Jason Badeaux.

"When you start to see students come out for it, it means that it matters," student, Monturios Howard, added.

While Howard is not Greek, he says he fully supports the president's decision and has confidence in how the administration is handling a very difficult and sensitive situation. "You see these things happen on TV, but you never think that it can happen on your campus and when it does, it's hard to decide what's the right solution," said Howard.

Borghardt though, says while it sounds like good public relations for the school, legally, it's not the best move. "It's such a horrible thing that we have to do this and I just don't know legally if that would hold water," he added.

Tailgating activities will not resume until September 30. Once reinstated, there will be some extensive changes to the policies and procedures. University leaders say it is their intent to create a new normal in relation to how Greeks operate on campus.

A detailed letter about which activities will be permitted and which are still banned can be read below:

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