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Bowling Green: Fraternity broke hazing rules in Stone Foltz's death

The Bowling Green State University sophomore died March 7 with a reported BAC of 0.394, days after an alleged fraternity hazing event.

Bowling Green State University says the now-suspended Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity violated six sections of student conduct code regarding incidents that allegedly led to the death of student Stone Foltz

Foltz, 20, was a sophomore at Bowling Green State University from the Dublin area who died March 7, days after an alleged hazing incident involving alcohol that occurred at a Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) off-campus event on March 4. 

The fraternity has been placed on interim suspension as law enforcement and Bowling Green State University officials investigate the situation. Foltz spent days in the hospital before his family made the decision to donate his organs.

On behalf of Bowling Green State University, Alex Solis, deputy chief of staff and university spokesperson, issued the following statement on Friday regarding an update in the conduct case involving Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) fraternity:

"Today, Bowling Green State University met with local and national leaders of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. The University worked with special counsel David DeVillers, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio at the firm of Barnes & Thornburg, to pursue a thorough and fair investigation to seek the truth and facts regarding the alleged hazing activity on March 4."

BGSU has cited the organization with six violations of the Code of Student Conduct and expects the case to be adjudicated within the university by April 13.

Dean of students letter

A letter from Jeremy Zilmer, associated dean of students, the chapter president of Pi Kappa Alpha failed to meet with Zilmer on Friday to discuss the investigation into the incidents that occurred during an off-campus event in the 300 block of North Main Street on March 4. 

The letter also sheds more light into the events said to have occurred at that party.

The letter states to the unnamed chapter president, "Based on the information you provided, as well as information gathered during the investigation process, I have determined that there is sufficient justification to charge the organization with violating six (6) of the following sections of the Code of Student Conduct."

Details of offenses

In the Zilmer letter, the first offense - harm to others - is said to be warranted "based upon information that members of the organization provided individual bottles of alcohol to new members and encouraged the new members to consume the entirety of the contents of the bottle. One new member died following this event, and other new members were severely intoxicated to the point of vomiting."

The first hazing offense, Zilmer says, was "based upon information that members of the organization provided individual bottles of alcohol to the new members and then encouraged the new members to consume the entirety of the contents of the bottle."

He goes on to write that the second offense of hazing was warranted "based upon information that members of the organization had the new members wear blindfolds and led them into a basement area while being yelled at and pushed in an effort to disorient them."

The third offense of hazing, Zilmer said, was "warranted based upon information that the new members were instructed multiple times prior to the event on March 4 that they would need to inform faculty members of their likely absence from classes on March 5."

The fourth offense of hazing was levied "based upon the totality of the information collected coupled with the fact that hazing and underage possession/consumption of alcohol are against university policy and state law," Zilmer wrote. 

The disregarding health and safety violation was issued "based upon information that alcohol was provided to new members of the organization, and only one new member was of legal age to possess/consume alcohol," the dean said. 

On March 19, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost appointed an independent third party to assist in the university's investigation into Foltz's death. 

Special counsel David DeVillers, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio at the firm of Barnes & Thornburg, is engaged as an "expert, independent their party to assist with the conduct investigation."

This investigation is alongside but separate from the Bowling Green Police Division investigation. The BGSU investigation is being conducted into potential violations of its own student code of conduct.

Bowling Green State University statement

"Hazing is absolutely intolerable. BGSU continues to work with local law enforcement, who are actively leading their own investigation into this serious situation. While these University charges don’t bring back student Stone Foltz, our goal is to hold those accountable who are responsible for this tragedy," the statement issued by Solis said.

"Today’s charges are another step in the ongoing investigation concerning the fraternity with adjudication scheduled for completion by April 13. The conduct processes involving individual students also remains ongoing," Solis' statement read.

Statement from law firm representing Stone Foltz family

Attorneys for the Foltz family reacted on Friday to the conduct code violations and said it should be an "easy decision" that leads to the fraternity's expulsion. The family is also calling for a zero-tolerance policy in which one hazing incident would mean immediate expulsion. 

"Stone Foltz died as a result of a senseless hazing ritual. While he wasn't the first to suffer dire consequences at the hands of a fraternity, we are determined to make him the last. We are encouraged to see Bowling Green State University move swiftly to address Pi Kappa Alpha's conduct. Given the facts, charging the fraternity with six Code of Student Conduct violations, including Harm to Others, multiple Hazing violations, and Organization Alcohol, is an easy decision that should lead to the fraternity's expulsion," the attorneys wrote. 

"We also expect the individuals who participated in the hazing ritual to be held accountable. However, our ultimate goal is to get all university presidents to institute a zero-tolerance policy for any hazing activities. True zero tolerance means one hazing incident results in immediate fraternal expulsion. Proposed state and federal legislation are steps in the right direction but university presidents must make serious and significant changes to eliminate hazing from the culture."

Pi Kappa Alpha statement

The International Fraternity is heartbroken about the death of Stone Foltz, a student and unreported new member of the Delta Beta Chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity at Bowling Green State University (BGSU). No family should have to endure such a devastating loss. The International Fraternity joins Stone’s family and friends in their grief and extends its deepest and sincere sympathy to all of those affected by this senseless tragedy.

The Fraternity has a zero-tolerance policy toward illegal activity, substance abuse, bullying, and hazing of any kind. Let us reiterate in the strongest terms: We refuse to defend or condone any behavior that creates dangerous environments or situations for our members or the larger campus community at any of our 200+ chapters in the United States and abroad.

We have immediately placed this chapter on administrative suspension and advised its leaders to cooperate fully with University administration and local law enforcement. As more details are confirmed, we will also pursue permanent suspension of Delta Beta Chapter as well as expulsion of all chapter members from the International Fraternity.

The International Fraternity will cooperate fully with authorities as this incident is investigated and will consider every possible course of action to hold the chapter and individual members accountable to the fullest extent in accordance with the International Fraternity Constitution and Codes.

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