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Ohio University suspends all fraternity chapters amid new reports of hazing

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Wendy Van/iStock(ATHENS, Ohio) -- Five months after the death of a student in an alleged hazing incident led to the expulsion of one of its fraternities, Ohio University has suspended all 15 of its Interfraternity Council (IFC) fraternity chapters amid new reports of hazing.

Ohio University Senior Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Jenny Halls-Jones made the announcement in a two-page letter sent to all IFC presidents Thursday.

"Last Spring, Sigma Pi was expelled from our community as a result of hazing. Earlier this week, we received allegations that two IFC chapters were hazing new members and those chapters were placed on a cease and desist from Community Standards and Students Responsibility," she said in the letter.

"Yesterday, we received reports of hazing that encompassed five more chapters," bringing the total number of fraternities under investigation to seven, Halls-Jones said in the letter. "As a result: I am hereby suspending all chapter operations for Interfraternity Council chapters until further notice, effective immediately."

The news comes almost a year after Collin Wiant, an 18-year-old freshman, died after allegedly being hazed by the Sigma Pi fraternity. A lawsuit by Wiant's family claims that he died of asphyxiation after ingesting nitrous oxide forced on him by fraternity members.

Halls-Jones said the most recent allegations, which will be thoroughly investigated, indicate a potentially escalating systemic culture within Ohio University's IFC organizations.

Some students applauded the move.

"I think it's about time something's done about it," senior Hayden Spurgeon told Columbus, Ohio, ABC affiliate WSYX-TV. "Everybody hears that a bunch of hazing happens, and it's not OK. I mean joke hazing, that's all right, but hazing where people's lives are literally at risk? And we've lost people here because of it? It's not cool."

Other students were skeptical of the university's decision, which comes a week before homecoming.

"I think it's an effort of the school to try and control the craziness and the madness that might unravel," Reid Hamilton told WSYX. "I've heard a lot of crazy stories. I don't think any of them are true. "

Earlier this year, the University at Buffalo's president suspended all Greek life after an 18-year-old undergraduate student was critically injured in a "potential" hazing incident at the school's Sigma Pi house in April.

Neighbors reported they saw two frat members carry a person out of the house overnight after authorities arrived.

In November 2017, Texas State University suspended all Greek activities following the death of a 20-year-old fraternity pledge. Matthew Ellis, who was pledging the university's Phi Kappa Psi chapter, was found unresponsive by officers with the San Marcos Police Department after he had attended an off-campus social event the night before.

Friends of Ellis called 911, and Ellis was pronounced dead after first responders were unable to revive him, authorities said.

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