La. Journalists Call For Transparency Amid Frat Hazings
The Louisiana Society of Professional Journalists has voiced concerns over what it calls a "lack of transparency and timely reporting" of recent hazing incidents at LSU and UL Lafayette.
The organization's administrators penned a letter outlining the concerns following the deaths of Maxwell Gruver at LSU and an Uzbek student, Rustam Nizamutdinov, at UL Lafayette. Both deaths have been linked to fraternity hazing incidents at their respective universities.
The letter states it took public records requests for news organizations to garner pertinent details about the incidents and the pending investigations.
The letter was sent to Joseph C. Rallo, commissioner of higher education; F. King Alexander, LSU System president and chancellor; Jim Henderson, University of Louisiana System president; Ray Belton, Southern University System president; and E. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president. A copy was sent to Gov. John Bel Edwards.
It was co-signed by Sergy Odiduro of Arcadia, SPJ chapter president, and Robert Buckman of Lafayette, chapter vice president.
"No organization likes negative publicity," the letter states. "But when universities sweep disciplinary actions against fraternities under the rug, when they throw up roadblocks to keep journalists from reporting them, they are sending a tacit message to those fraternities that they are willing to help shield them from public scrutiny and disgrace. The first loyalty of Louisiana universities and the systems that govern them should be to their students and their parents, and to the taxpayers, not to non-governmental, out-of-state fraternal organizations whose actions have been shown to be reprehensible and even deadly."
In one case, reporters dug up hazing ritual details that dated back more than five years, but these details were not shared with media professionals.