LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The University of Kentucky is suspending pledge activity for fraternities while taking steps to educate fraternities and sororities on campus about alcohol use and hazing.
President Eli Capilouto and UK Vice President for Student Success Kirsten Turner sent a letter to the campus community on Thursday. The action follows the death on Monday of a student at a fraternity house.
UK police were called to the FarmHouse Fraternity just before 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 18 to help an unresponsive 18-year-old, who later died. Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn says Thomas "Lofton" Hazelwood from Henderson, Kentucky, died from drinking too much alcohol.
His death is currently under investigation by UK police and the Office of Student Conduct.
"There are two reviews underway," said UK Spokesperson Jay Blanton. "They are extensive reviews, they are comprehensive reviews, but we know we need to move quickly though at the same time. We have pledged to our campus that we are going to be fully transparent with our community and with the family as well and all those that have been impacted. This is a tragedy but we need to do it right, so we need to let those reviews play out. At the end of the day we're going to let those facts take us where they take us and then we'll report on what those findings are to our campus."
UK is suspending activities of new members of Interfraternity Council (IFC) chapters indefinitely. It is also "requiring new training for all IFC chapter members focusing on bystander intervention, and an additional course around hazing prevention and university expectations. "
Follow-up meetings are planned with leaders with Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) on Thursday.
"Our first priority is always to protect the health and safety of our students, particularly those who might be impacted by a tragedy like this. It's all about trying to give a targeted approach to those that we think could be those most impacted or those most vulnerable, which are newer members here, and just trying to address some of these issues that we know are out there. They're not just issues on our campus, they're issues nationally," said Blanton.
The message to the campus outlines steps to ensure the health and well-being of students, which includes educating students about responsibilities with respect to "critical issues such as hazing, alcohol use and bystander intervention."
"We already do a lot of training, but this is expanded training and stronger training to reinforce some of these issues and expectations that we have," said Blanton.
Here is the text of the letter sent to the UK campus community:
We have no more important priority than ensuring your health and well-being. You are why we are here. Please, know that we are here for you as a resource - to talk, to provide support or simply to listen.
At the same time, even as we are reviewing the circumstances of Lofton’s death, we believe it is important to think about and act upon additional steps we can, and should, take to honor our obligations to you. It also is important that we, as a community, reinforce your responsibilities to each other.
As part of that effort, we want to take concrete steps to increase awareness and education about bystander intervention, hazing, alcohol use and education. We also want to underscore how serious these issues are - to our campus community and to your health, safety and well-being. Here are a number of next steps the Dean of Students Office and Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) are taking immediately:
All new member activities in Interfraternity Council (IFC) chapters at UK are suspended indefinitely. That includes all social, educational and formal interactions between new and returning members of the organization or chapter. This also includes official or unofficial new member events hosted by a chapter.
We will implement additional training programs that will be required of all members - new and current - that will focus on bystander intervention training and an additional course around hazing prevention and university expectations.
These are initial steps. We will continue to evaluate our training programs and Code of Student Conduct to ensure that our training requirements are as robust and effective as possible.
We hope you will help us communicate the importance of these measures, as I know we all want the same thing - a campus that is safe, friends and fellow students who are protected and a learning and living environment that is rich and rewarding.
FSL representatives will be meeting with your leadership shortly to discuss these steps in greater detail and answer any questions.
Thank you for working with us on this very important matter. We deeply value you as students and members of our community. I know we can work together to ensure your health and safety and position you for success.
Vice President for Student Success
Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.