BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The parents of former LSU student Max Gruver shared their message at a hazing prevention summit held by the Louisiana Board of Regents Friday, Sept. 20.
The summit provided an opportunity for more than 100 college and university leaders to gather in advance of national Hazing Prevention Week which is celebrated September 23 through 27.
During the event, Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed said hazing is an issue that is larger than just the collegiate Greek system. She says hazing is an issue that should be addressed in all student organizations.
Reed says she’s taken it’s now required that students have access to information, including information about what’s considered hazing and how to get help.
“We want to send a clear message that we have zero tolerance for hazing. That we’re committed to student success, and we want to make sure that we are supporting each other in this effort. Any student lost is one student too many,” said Reed.
Gruver died from alcohol poisoning in September of 2017 after a hazing ritual called "bible study," in which Phi Delta Theta pledges were required to chug hard liquor if they answered questions wrongly about the fraternity.
An autopsy revealed Gruver’s blood-alcohol level to be more than six times the legal limit to drive in Louisiana at the time of his death. THC, the chemical found in marijuana, was also found in his system.
Several other members of the fraternity were arrested in connection with the death.
One member, Matthew Naquin, was found guilty of negligent homicide.
Even though a jury just found Matthew Naquin guilty of negligent homicide in the Gruver case, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said he could not convict other fraternity members of felonies because the current law was not on the books when Gruver died. Now, it’s much easier to charge someone with a felony for hazing, which carries similar penalties to negligent homicide, but requires less evidence to prove.
Louisiana’s new, clearly outlined law, means criminal hazing carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Under the previous law, hazing was considered a misdemeanor.