BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - After a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity was arrested Monday, Nov. 2 in connection with an alleged hazing incident that sent a new member to the hospital, advocates are sounding the alarm, saying it’s time for a cultural change.
About one year after the Maxwell Gruver case came to a close, the teen’s family is speaking out about this new incident, saying things like this need to stop.
Gruver was killed in September of 2017 in a very similar hazing incident. The man accused in his death, Matthew Naquin, was sentenced to prison in November of 2019.
“From what I read in the arrest warrant here, is that this young man’s (Phi Kappa Psi pledge) blood alcohol level was .45, and I believe that Mr. Gruver’s was .48. So they were very close,” said EBR District Attorney Hillar Moore.
District Attorney Moore says while the cases may seem similar, the difference is that someone took control early in the case with the Phi Kappa Psi pledge, and that young man was taken to the hospital just in time.
He also says there’s been more cooperation with this new investigation.
“We always knew that hazing was really engrained in fraternal organizations and others. Not just fraternities, other organizations on different campuses. But then to see it again, and it be very similar to that one, it is a little disheartening,” said Moore.
Anti-hazing advocates are sounding the alarm as well.
“It’s something that maybe we believe is connected to a campus culture. And therefore it takes more than just a policy, or one training, or a program or a campus speaker, to really make enduring sustainable change,” said Dr. Elizabeth Allan, a professor of higher education at the University of Maine, who also works with the organization StopHazing.
Allan has researched campus cultures and climates surrounding hazing for more than a decade now, and has written numerous studies and books on the topic.
“We found that 55% of college students had experienced behaviors that had met the definitions of hazing. And certainly we’ve seen in the news, in the headlines, a number of very, very disturbing hazing incidents and tragic outcomes in a number of cases,” said Dr. Allan.
The Gruver family doesn’t believe organizations are listening, and they don’t realize just how deadly hazing can be.
Gruver’s parents released the following statement to WAFB:
“The countless occurrences of hazing before Max’s tragic passing should have been enough to stop hazing. Max’s death as a result of a dangerous fraternity ritual should have been enough to stop hazing. Yet it seems no one is listening, so these tragedies continue. When will these young student organizations start to listen and believe our message of how uncontrollable and dangerous hazing is? They continue to haze because they believe they have their hazing under control and yet, every semester we learn of how dangerous this fallacy is. You can not control hazing. Hazing controls you. The only control of hazing is to eliminate it, cut this cancer from your organization before it kills someone you care for or love.”
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