LSU has deferred the two-year suspension of Kappa Sigma fraternity it imposed on the chapter earlier this year for violating campus alcohol and COVID-19 safety regulations, meaning the chapter will be able to stay on campus and participate in all campus activities this fall, including new member recruitment.
The university notified the chapter of its decision earlier this week, a little more than a month after Kappa Sig appealed the suspension, arguing it was unprecedented, excessively harsh and that LSU had failed to follow its own disciplinary policies.
LSU had suspended the chapter after determining it violated safety regulations intended to limit the spread of COVID-19 last fall by holding several large gatherings including a pledging event with more than 70 people, a Night in Bologna dinner with more than 140, a weekend in Houston attended by more than 300, and an off-campus party attended by more than 300.
The chapter also violated the conditions of the disciplinary probation it had been placed on going into the 2020-2021 academic year, after being taken off deferred suspension in May 2020 for failing to notify the university in advance of planned social events and serving alcohol to underage students that had been purchased with chapter funds.
Additionally, the chapter was found to have engaged in coercive behavior with pledges, though not hazing—an important distinction.
LSU cracked down on its Greek system in 2017 following the hazing death of fraternity pledge Max Gruver, who was forced to drink large quantities of hard liquor as part of a hazing ritual.
As part of its deferred suspension, which is retroactive to January and runs through December 2022, Kappa Sig has agreed to several terms, including:
• A complete review of every member of the chapter, to be completed by mid August and conducted by a “qualified and competent” individual submitted by the chapter’s board of trustees.
• Following its two-year probation, the chapter will be placed on disciplinary probation for another academic year, ending in May 2023.
• Throughout the disciplinary period, if the chapter is found in violation of any university health or safety regulations it will be immediately suspended.
• The chapter will hire a live-in advisor to provide ongoing advising, education and oversight for the 2021-2022 academic year.
LSU officials say the decision to defer the suspension did not come in response to pressure from the chapter’s powerful alumni, which includes prominent leaders and professionals around the state.
In a letter to its alumni in late April vowing to fight the suspension, the chapter’s board of trustees had urged alumni to “contact persons in leadership at the University,” adding, “It will be vital that we aggressively engage the University on all fronts.”
LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard says the fraternity had been working with LSU officials weeks before that letter went out to alumni and that, “the basic framework and expectations were well-understood by both parties from the beginning. The organization has made a number of changes. … We have high expectations of our students and student organizations. We want to give them every opportunity to correct their mistakes … and ultimately to do everything that needs to be done to offer a safe, productive, value-added experience for LSU students.”