Campus hazing under scrutiny after US student dies

Maxwell Gruver (left) died after he was rushed to hospital from a fraternity house.
Maxwell Gruver (left) died after he was rushed to hospital from a fraternity house.PHOTO: FACEBOOK

CHICAGO (AFP) - The governor of Louisiana on Friday (Sept 22) asked all state-run universities to review policies on hazing, alcohol and drug abuse, after a college student died under suspicious circumstances.

Maxwell Gruver, a freshman at Louisiana State University in the southern US state, died last week after he was rushed to the hospital from a fraternity house. Authorities who are investigating the death said the 18-year-old was highly intoxicated.

Governor John Bel Edwards ordered all state universities and colleges to review and take inventory of their abuse policies, and to report back to him by Oct 29.

"Over the years, there have been instances where college athletics, student organisations, bands and other groups sanctioned by our universities have participated in a silent culture of hazing or drug and alcohol abuse," Edwards said in a letter.

"It is up to us to do everything within our means to ensure that the students who attend a Louisiana university are safe from harm."

Authorities said they are investigating Gruver's death as a possible case of hazing, in which applicants to college organisations are put through difficult and at times abusive rituals.

The practice is officially forbidden on university campuses.

Hospital tests detected THC, a chemical found in marijuana, and a high level of alcohol in Gruver's blood, officials said. He was taken to hospital directly from the fraternity house.

The Phi Delta Theta fraternal organisation, at the centre of the incident, announced Monday that it was shuttering the LSU chapter based on preliminary findings that rules on alcohol-free housing were violated.

"This is a very tragic situation that should have never happened," said Bob Biggs, the national chief of the fraternity.

Louisiana State University has indefinitely cancelled all activities by fraternities and sororities, and designated this week as a period of reflection.