ATHENS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio University on Thursday announced it was suspending all its fraternities following allegations of widespread hazing.
Suspension of the 15 fraternities at the university was immediate and indefinite. It followed allegations within the past week of hazing at seven of the fraternities, as well as the expulsion in May of a fraternity following the alleged hazing of a freshman who died last year.
“These troubling allegations, which will be thoroughly investigated, indicate a potentially escalating systemic culture” within fraternity organizations, said Jenny Hall-Jones, the university’s dean of students.
“Ohio University will not put at risk the health and safety of our students,” she said.
In May, the university expelled Sigma Pi fraternity for hazing, alcohol and drug use, and other student conduct code violations after the alleged hazing of 18-year-old Collin Wiant, who died in November.
A lawsuit by Wiant’s family alleges he died of asphyxiation after ingesting nitrous oxide provided to and forced on him by fraternity members.
Sigma Pi denied those allegations and said Wiant wasn’t a pledge when he died. The fraternity said Wiant, from the Columbus suburb of Dublin, was removed from the pledging process weeks earlier because of a sexual-assault allegation.
But his family’s attorney has argued there is evidence that Wiant remained a pledge.
At Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, a hazing allegation has led to misdemeanor charges of hazing and assault against more than a dozen fraternity members.
A student reported in March that members of the Delta Tau Delta chapter at the university in Oxford hazed him during initiation.
The student said he was beaten with a spiked paddle, kicked and forced to drink lots of alcohol.
Oxford police confirmed that a Butler County grand jury’s recent indictments of the 18 men stemmed from an investigation into hazing, the Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News reported.
Miami suspended the fraternity in August for 10 to 15 years after its investigation determined violations of the school’s Code of Student Conduct.
Delta Tau Delta’s national headquarters revoked the chapter’s charter in June.
Universities nationally have struggled in recent years to curb hazing. In August in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, two former fraternity brothers served time for misdemeanor hazing in connection with the alcohol poisoning death of a Louisiana State University student in 2017.
In Virginia in April, three Virginia State University fraternity members were accused of hurting 10 students who were being hazed.
In Pennsylvania, lawmakers enacted a stricter state anti-hazing law in 2018 following the death a year earlier of 19-year-old Penn State student Tim Piazza after the consumption a large quantity of alcohol the night of a pledge bid acceptance ceremony at the Beta Theta Pi house.