Police Investigating Whether Fraternity Hazing Led to Death of Bowling Green Student

A 20-year-old sophomore at Bowling Green State University in Ohio died on Sunday evening, three days after attending what university officials called an off-campus fraternity event that was said to include “hazing activity involving alcohol consumption.”

The Bowling Green Police Department is investigating the case, Lt. Dan Mancuso, the public information officer for the department, said on Sunday evening. He declined to provide additional details.

The death of the student, Stone Foltz, 20, of Delaware, Ohio, was announced on Sunday evening by Sean Alto, a lawyer representing the student’s family. “The death of Stone Foltz is a tragedy,” he said. “At this time we are gathering all of the facts leading to his untimely death, and we have no interest in commenting on speculation.”

Earlier on Sunday, Mr. Alto said that Mr. Foltz was being kept alive for the purpose of donating his organs “so that others may have a second chance at life.”

Officials at the university, about 20 miles south of Toledo, said they were moving to suspend the fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, and planned to bring in consultants to conduct “a broader review of student organizations and activities.”

Officials have released few details about the fraternity event on Thursday. The university released a statement on Friday saying it was “aware of alleged hazing activity involving alcohol consumption at a Pi Kappa Alpha off-campus event” a day earlier. The fraternity was “on interim suspension” as law enforcement investigated, the university said.

A student whose roommate attended the event described it to WTOL, a Toledo television station: “We have to drink a handle of any alcohol that our big gives us,” the roommate said, according to this student. “We have to finish the whole thing in the time we’re there before we leave.” A handle of alcohol is about 59.2 fluid ounces, more than twice the volume of a fifth of a gallon, a standard size bottle of liquor.

Mr. Alto, the lawyer representing the Foltz family, said Mr. Foltz left the fraternity event and returned to his apartment at about 11 or 11:30 p.m., the station reported. There, the student’s roommate or roommates found him and called 911, he said.

The fraternity’s parent organization said in a statement on Saturday that it was “horrified and outraged by this incident” and that it planned to suspend the local chapter and all of its members.

The fraternity said it had a “a zero-tolerance policy toward illegal activity, substance abuse, bullying and hazing of any kind,” adding, “We refuse to defend or condone any behavior that creates dangerous environments or situations” for its members. The organization said it would pursue “permanent suspension” of the chapter at Bowling Green and all of its members there.

Schools and universities define hazing somewhat differently but largely recognize it as a form of physical injury or exposure to risk, often associated with a student’s effort to join a recognized fraternity or sorority. At times, those activities have turned deadly.

Collin Wiant, an 18-year-old Ohio University student, died during an off-campus fraternity event in 2018. Timothy Piazza, a 19-year-old sophomore at Penn State University, died in 2017 after drinking a large quantity of alcohol while pledging a fraternity. Also in 2017, Maxwell Gruver, an 18-year-old student at Louisiana State University, died after he became extremely intoxicated during a fraternity initiation ritual.

The university said in a statement on Saturday said that there would be “a full inquiry into each Greek chapter’s prevention and compliance responsibilities under university policies prohibiting hazing.”

Bowling Green will also “consult with outside third parties to conduct a broader review of student organizations and activities,” Rodney K. Rogers, president of the university, and Joe B. Whitehead, Jr., provost and senior vice president for academic and student affairs, said in a joint statement on Saturday.

By Sunday morning, the giant Greek letters on the exterior of the fraternity’s house in Bowling Green had been removed. “Given that Pi Kappa Alpha is not currently recognized as a registered student organization, the fraternity’s Greek letters were removed from its on-campus residence this morning,” Alex D. Solis, a spokesman for the university, said on Sunday.

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