Last December, Maxwell Gruver, an 18-year-old freshman at Louisiana State University, died during a Phi Delta Theta ritual in which he was forced to drink alcohol. An autopsy found his blood alcohol level was .495 at the time of his death, which is more than six times the legal limit.
Gruver is one of four fraternity pledges who lost their lives to hazing in 2017. Recent incidents have placed a national spotlight on Greek life and sparked much discussion. The Interfraternity Council (IFC) executive board at UNC Charlotte has taken this influential time to address its own members.
“The main goal was education,” said IFC President and Sigma Alpha Epsilon brother Jake Curtis. “Our idea was that we really can’t bring in new members into our community if our current members are not prepared or educated enough to do so.”
Within the past year, IFC has lost four chapters: Delta Chi, Lambda Chi Alpha and Sigma Phi Epsilon. Phi Sigma Kappa is interimly suspended and has been required to cease activities both on and off campus. If suspended, that would mean 25 percent of UNC Charlotte’s Greek life was suspended due to hazing related incidents such as providing alcohol to minors, physical injury, disruption of University Activities and failure to comply with the Office of Student Conduct.
“Hopefully this will open up some honest conversations that the IFC executive board can have with these chapters one-on-one, to kind of talk about what problems they’re seeing within their chapter and the community and how to address those, specifically with hazing,” said Curtis.
The discussions resulted in a delay of IFC recruitment for the spring semester.
“The goal was not to push back recruitment, the goal was to bring in an expert consultant. Due to the time that it took for him to go to each chapter and the community as a whole, recruitment ended up being pushed back a couple of weeks,” said Curtis.
Phi Delta Theta Vice President, Greg Rush, acknowledged the fact that the national attention has hit home for the Greek community at UNC Charlotte.
“It’s affecting us a lot. There [were] only 119 kids signed up for IFC recruitment for the spring. I’ve been here for four years and that is the lowest it’s ever been. I think it’s a combination of rush being pushed back and the bad publicity that IFC fraternities have gotten over the years.”
Despite the media portrayal, UNC Charlotte administration believes that IFC is headed in the right direction – especially Director of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity Jonathan Adams.
“Our IFC has done an outstanding job in providing opportunities for members of our fraternities to have sincere conversations about the culture of the organizations and the alignment of decisions and values,” he said. “By continuing those conversations and helping members of the community better understand the policy, IFC and the Office of Student Conduct can collaborate to create an environment centered on responsibility, accountability, development and community.”