Last month, an LSU Phi Kappa Psi fraternity member—the same fraternity we have been dealing with following the death of Antonio Tsialas at Cornell University—subjected 13 new members to alcohol abuse in another alcohol-related fraternity hazing event. Terry Pat Reynolds II, the hazing perpetrator, served as the fraternity’s “New Member Educator” and gave every pledge bottles and cans of alcohol to drink. No member was allowed to leave until they finished their alcohol.
As a result of the massive alcohol consumption, one of the hazing victims was hospitalized and remains on life support. He was brought into the hospital with pink foam coming out of his mouth, which is a symptom of organ failure. Hospital staff found that his blood alcohol level was .451, which was 6x the legal limit. After a weeks-long investigation, 21-year-old Reynolds was charged with 13 counts of hazing: 12 counts of misdemeanor hazing, and 1 count of felony hazing. In Louisiana, felony hazing conviction comes with a 5-year prison sentence.
A Pattern of Destruction Caused by Hazing
This marks the second Phi Kappa Psi story in a month where there was serious harm caused related to Phi Kappa Psi members or property. Last month, an Ohio State student was killed outside of the Phi Kappa Psi house in an altercation with a student from another school. Reports say they were both at the house because there was a house party, despite the fact that Phi Kappa Psi was not authorized to organize student events, which was the very same situation that we saw at Cornell University when the Phi Kappa Psi chapter on that campus hosted a totally illegal and unauthorized hazing event which preceded the death of Antonio Tsialas whose parents we represented. Our case against Phi Kappa Psi recently settled.
In the Phi Kappa Psi Tsialas case, a group of students were subjected to alcohol abuse in an event called “Christmas in October.” Students invited to that event, as at LSU, were compelled to binge drink large amounts of alcohol until they were seriously impaired. Antonio Tsialas was found dead at a nearby gorge after he left the party. Our firm is still looking for information about what happened to him that night, and we will not stop looking for answers no matter how long it takes.
The Phi Kappa Psi hazing event marks the second time in three years that a student at LSU was seriously harmed by hazing on campus. LSU freshman Maxwell Gruver died three years ago in an alcohol-related hazing tradition. The student who subjected Gruver to the hazing alcohol abuse was sentenced to five years in prison for negligent homicide and the Louisiana governor subsequently made hazing a felony.
Felony Hazing Laws Working as Designed
In the most recent Phi Kappa Psi event, the fraternity chapter president, as in the Tsialas Phi Kappa Psi case, used his authority within the fraternity to subject the younger students to life-threatening hazing. The decisions in both cases are a symptom of a larger cultural problem within Greek life. The law is finally catching up to the reality of what is going on year after year at these fraternities and those chapter officers who are in charge of these events are increasingly facing fines and prison time. Everyone who agrees to serve as a chapter officer or plays any role in organizing or hosting the events where these things happen is now on notice: “You haze—you pays.” You assume these positions at your own peril.Our firm hopes for a speedy recovery for the student who was hospitalized as a result of Phi Kappa Psi’s hazing. We hope he and his family get justice for what they’ve suffered.