LSU has placed its Kappa Sigma fraternity chapter on suspension while the university investigates allegations it violated LSU policy and potentially state law by serving alcohol to those under 21, hosting large events amid the COVID-19 pandemic and hazing fraternity pledges.
According to details in a letter sent Wednesday to the fraternity by Jonathan Sanders, associate dean for student advocacy and accountability, Kappa Sigma has been on interim suspension since Jan. 15 due to numerous alleged violations of the LSU Code of Student Conduct, one of which involved “alcohol medical transport of a student due to an off-campus event” held during rush week last fall. Alcohol at the party was purchased with chapter funds and available to underage students, the letter says.
Additionally, the fraternity allegedly failed to follow the university’s COVID-19 directives by having more than 50 people present for a pledging ceremony last fall and also for hosting a Night in Bologna dinner for new members.
The letter goes on to say that while LSU was working with Kappa Sigma to address the concerns, the university has since been made aware of additional alleged violations, including:
• A three-day event held Nov. 5-7 in Houston in violation of LSU’s COVID-19 policy.
• An unapproved event, where new members served as bartenders.
• A Dec. 5 party—when the state was in the third wave of the pandemic—at a member’s house off campus in University Acres that was attended by some 300 people.
The letter says LSU also received a complaint of alleged hazing activity that included “errand running and sleep deprivation of new members during the fall semester.”
The allegations and actions against Kappa Sigma, one of LSU’s oldest fraternities, come as the university is battling a high-profile and growing national scandal over the way it handled Title IX violations of sexual violence and misconduct.
One casualty of that scandal is former LSU President F. King Alexander, who earlier this week resigned under pressure from his new job as president of Oregon State University.
During a hearing last week before the OSU board of trustees, Alexander detailed his efforts while at LSU from 2013 to 2019 to crack down on a toxic Greek culture that involved hazing, excessive drinking and sexual violence and misconduct.
He also told OSU trustees about the pushback he got from prominent alumni and donors, who thought his efforts to reform the campus Greek culture went too far.
Kappa Sigma was one of several problem organizations during those years. In February 2017, after learning that LSU was looking into policy violations, the fraternity’s national office purged several members from the campus chapter in what it called a “membership review,” according to published reports.
In March 2019, LSU police raided the Kappa Sigma house searching for drugs and a fraternity member received a misdemeanor summons related to an alleged hazing incident.
It is unclear what came of the investigations related to those allegations but, until January at least, the organization remained on campus.
In a statement, Kappa Sigma Advisory Board chairman Robbie Mahtook says the chapter received the letter late Wednesday and has not had time to review the allegations.
“Kappa Sigma has high expectations of its members,” he says. “We intend to fully investigate these allegations and, if the evidence proves the allegations to be true, hold the chapter or individuals accountable. We look forward to working with the university to continue Kappa Sigma’s long presence and contribution to campus.”
LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard says the letter speaks for itself.
The chapter is facing violations related to alcohol, endangerment, failure to comply, violating a rule of the university, coercive behavior and hazing.
A hearing is scheduled for April 8 at 1 p.m. with the LSU Office of Student Advocacy and Accountability. Read the letter here.