A University of Kentucky (UK) fraternity has suspended all activities due to an investigation into the alcohol-related death of a student, local authorities announced.
Thomas “Lofton” Hazelwood, an 18-year-old student, died at UK hospital Monday night after police found him unresponsive at the FarmHouse Fraternity Monday night, authorities told local CBS affiliate WKYT.
Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn told the outlet that Hazelwood’s presumed cause of death, pending further investigation, is alcohol poisoning. The preliminary report ruled the death as accidental.
UK President Eli Capilouto and Vice President for Student Success Kirsten Turner sent a message to the campus community saying that UK police are interviewing people as part of the investigation, according to WKYT. UK’s Office of Student Conduct has also begun reviewing the incident. (RELATED: Fraternity Shut Down, Under Investigation Over Death Of 19-Year-Old Student)
NEW: The university has suspended all activities for the FarmHouse Fraternity while their investigations are ongoing. https://t.co/EH2tdyXFIc
— WKYT (@WKYT) October 20, 2021
Upon completion, both of the investigations will be made public, barring “necessary redactions to protect the privacy of students,” the statement said, according to WKYT.
FarmHouse Fraternity CEO Christian Wiggins said he has “encouraged all members of the chapter to cooperate with the investigation,” The Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
“We are saddened to share the passing of a University of Kentucky new member of FarmHouse Fraternity. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, chapter members and the entire community,” Wiggins said in a statement. “We will provide additional information as it becomes available.”
The circumstances of the incident have caused speculation about whether hazing played a role in Hazlewood’s death, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Hazing is defined as any action taken by a member of a campus organization against another member for the “purpose of affiliation,” deemed “negligent” and “reckless in nature,” that ultimately endangers the individual, according to UK’s code of conduct.
Hazing has been cited in numerous deaths on college campuses across the country, including the death of a 20-year-old Ohio student who was forced to drink an entire bottle of whiskey during a fraternity ritual in April.
Students cited for hazing are subject to punishment ranging “from a warning to disciplinary expulsion,” according to the code of conduct.
“Forced consumption of food, alcohol, drugs or other controlled substances,” falls under the definition of hazing, according to the document.
Ten student organizations on UK’s campus are currently facing “disciplinary probation” or the “revocation of registered student organization status,” according to records on the university’s website. All of the organizations are accused of hazing, “misuse of alcohol” or “harm and threat of harm” or some combination of all three.
The FarmHouse Fraternity was not listed as one of the groups having undergone disciplinary action, the Courier-Journal reported.