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Mizzou Students Slam Officials for Lax Oversight Following Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity Drinking Incident

Students at the University of Missouri said Thursday that a freshman’s hospitalization after a fraternity party, following a spate of reports about drugged drinks, has left them feeling unsafe.

The university announced its decision to suspend all fraternity activities Wednesday evening after police found the freshman student unresponsive at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house early Wednesday.

The house was the site of a party where several fraternity members “consumed significant amounts of alcohol,” the school said in a statement. The student was taken to University Hospital for treatment. The university has not provided any further details.

About 200 students gathered in a protest outside the fraternity house Wednesday to decry hazing, according to local news reports.

“Somebody couldn’t just almost die of alcohol poisoning on a Tuesday night at a frat house,” said LeeAnn Nordstrom, a sophomore who attended. “That’s not something that should be considered acceptable at our school or in our culture.”

Nordstrom said she’s frustrated by what some students feel is a slow response by the university to protect students’ safety after an unusual series of reports of drugged drinks this semester.

Friends who are in Greek life, Nordstrom said, have had “negative experiences” at Phi Gamma Delta.

Others said the university should have taken a tougher stance toward fraternity misconduct before the incident. Christian Basi, a university spokesman, said risky behavior isn’t isolated to Greek life.

“This is something that we have actually seen across the campus,” he said. “We have seen an uptick in concerning behaviors and believe that there is a possibility that the return to normalcy (from the pandemic) could be part of the issue with that. So that’s one of the reasons why we’re taking a pause right now to take a look at the various policies that are in place.”

The university warned students on Sept. 17 of predatory drugs in alcoholic drinks after receiving “multiple reports” of suspected drugging incidents, some of which “may have involved fraternity social events,” according to an MU police news release. The complaints were made to the university’s Title IX office, according to the Columbia Missourian.

“The frequency of what Title IX saw and the way the reports came in was a concern,” Basi told the newspaper.

The log of complaints, later revealed by student Eli Hoff through a Sunshine Law request, showed 13 reports involving two downtown Columbia bars and six fraternities. The MU police department and Columbia police are investigating, the university has said.

“We have to have more credible information before we can move further,” he said. “None of that information was able to be confirmed.”

The university has been scrutinized in recent years for risky behavior in fraternities. In 2017, a year after another student was hospitalized for drinking, a consulting firm found Greek houses operate with little oversight from the university and high risks of alcohol and substance abuse.

In response, the university planned this fall to implement safety and academic requirements governing fraternity chapters and freshmen initiates. But the rule has been delayed, Basi said, because returning to campus during COVID-19 created so many complications for the university “that we didn’t feel we could adequately incorporate that new policy.”

University of Missouri suspends fraternity activities after freshman found unresponsive

The University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, has suspended all fraternity activities after a freshman was found unresponsive and after a frat party, school officials said.

Police responded early Wednesday to the local Phi Gamma Delta house after the student was transported to University Hospital, school officials said. Several members of the fraternity are believed to have “consumed significant amounts of alcohol” during the party, school officials said.

The university’s police department and its Office of Student Accountability and Support are investigating the incident and criminal charges could be considered, according to Bill Stackman, vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of Missouri.

“We are extremely concerned about the events that were occurring at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity,” Stackman said in a statement. “As part of the investigations, we will hold anyone accountable who is found to have willfully ignored or violated university regulations. Those individuals could also face criminal charges.”

Following the incident, the university’s Greek student leaders and school officials agreed to halt all fraternity activities, including social events and university-sanctioned activities, amid the investigation.

“We stand in agreement with the actions being taken by the university as nothing is more important than the safety of the Mizzou community,” Conner Sibley, president of the university’s Interfraternity Council Executive Board, said in a statement.

The university and the Phi Gamma Delta national organization have also temporarily suspended the local chapter, school officials said.

“Following the investigation, we will review the findings and determine if any immediate changes should be made to ensure the safety of students participating in Greek Life activities,” Stackman said.

The Phi Gamma Delta national organization said it is working with school and local officials and will take “immediate and appropriate action based on the findings of an investigation.”

“We are deeply saddened by this incident and our thoughts, prayers and wishes for a speedy recovery are with our new member and his family,” Phi Gamma Delta Executive Director Rob Caudill said in a statement. “Our highest priority is the safety of our members and guests, and we have strict risk management policies related to alcohol use and safety concerns.”

In 2016, the university suspended its Kappa Alpha Order chapter for five years due to alcohol-related hazing. The following year, it conducted a review of its Greek life system and released a 24-page report addressed hazing prevention, Greek housing for freshmen and various other topics, according to ABC Columbia affiliate KMIZ.

ABC News Story

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