This week the family of a Utah State University student filed a lawsuit alleging USU officials tolerated "a culture of drug and alcohol abuse" at a fraternity house where their son, a teenage freshman pledge, died of alcohol poisoning after an alleged hazing last fall. According to the suit, the Sigma Nu fraternity chapter had a long documented history of misconduct, including an alcohol-related suicide by hanging, underage drinking, arson, thefts, vandalism, false fire alarms and assaults. The suit not only accuses the Sigma Nu chapter of straying from its chartering principles, but argues that University has a legal obligation to bring student organizations into line.
It is sad that in this day and age, parents have to worry about potential injuries from illegal hazing even after many successful lawsuits from injury and death. The USU case shows that not only the indiviuals casing the harm but othe organizations such as the college, the local fraternity chapter as well as its national parent fraternity may be sued for alleged injuries. In the above case, the national fraternity has already reached an out of court settlement with the family.