The death of Stone Foltz, a student at Bowling Green State University (BGSU), in March, 2020 sparked a national conversation about hazing in fraternities and sororities across the United States. Foltz’s death occurred following an alleged fraternity hazing incident. BGSU’s investigation into the incident led to the expulsion of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity and disciplinary action taken against a significant number of its members.
On March 31, 2022, Bowling Green State University announced the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority is permanently barred from campus, citing violations of six code of conduct policies.
The investigation conducted by the BGSU Office of the Dean of Students revealed the following violations by the sorority:
· Performed hazing acts that jeopardized the health and safety of the campus community and caused substantial risk of serious physical harm to specific individuals.
· Provided locations and atmospheres for high-risk drinking without appropriate monitoring.
· Required potential members to purchase alcohol and marijuana and told the potential members to steal items if they could not afford them.
· Physically struck potential members repeatedly in the face.
· Required potential members to inflict harm on themselves until seriously bruised.
· Required potential members to consume alcohol, causing one potential member to vomit.
· Took potential members cell phones and deleted evidence of harmful acts.
· Threatened potential members if they reported concerning behavior and told potential members they would be “jumped” for doing so.
These findings represent the ongoing trend of hazing allegations at Bowling Green State University and on campuses across the country. Two additional fraternities, Delta Chi and Phi Delta Theta were also suspended as a result of violations of the University’s Code of Student Conduct. Allegations of hazing, as well as subsequent sanctions or findings of responsibility, may have a prolonged effect on a students’ academic and personal life. The actions taken by a school may hinder a student’s ability to graduate, pursue higher education, or find employment. Because of this, it is crucial that a student’s rights and interests are protected throughout every phase of the process. Allegations of hazing incidents often go beyond the collegiate disciplinary process and can result in criminal charges being brought against those involved. Enacted in 2021, Collin’s Law, which was inspired, in part by Foltz’s death, requires Ohio universities to crack down on dangerous hazing activity. This anti-hazing law broadens the definition of hazing, increases legal penalties, and expands the list of officials required to report hazing incidents.
Experienced counsel can help a student accused of hazing, or other student conduct violations, navigate the allegations and ensure that they have been provided a fair process, both at the school level and in parallel criminal investigations. This includes conducting detailed investigations, ensuring that schools are providing a fair and unbiased process to challenge the allegations, and protecting a student’s rights throughout the disciplinary and criminal processes.
If you have questions regarding a student’s rights in school disciplinary proceedings, or you have been accused of or sanctioned for, hazing, please call Friedman Nemecek & Long, L.L.C. in Cleveland, Ohio for a free initial consultation. Our experienced attorneys are prepared and ready to help you with any issues pertaining to hazing accusations and sanctions, as well as any other school disciplinary questions. Reach us by calling (888) 694-4645.