Lsu Dke

LSU’s DKE chapter closed after alumnus saw wounds on grandson pledging, demanded investigation

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Various views of fraternity houses along Dalrymple Drive on the LSU campus. This view looking westward: Delta Chi, right, and Kappa Sigma, next house to left, with Delta Kappa Epsilon, first in the row, farther to the left.

  • Advocate Staff Photo by PATRICK DENNIS

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Google Earth photo of the Delta Kappa Epsilon house Baton Rouge.

A grandfather who saw hazing wounds on his grandson while the LSU student was swimming demanded the investigation of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity that led to its closure last month and the subsequent arrests of nine members accused of hazing.

Emails exchanged among at least 200 DKE alumni last month and obtained by The Advocate show that the man who reported the hazing allegations to the DKE national fraternity came forward to defend his grandson after another alumnus suggested that the allegations “did not happen at all.”

The Advocate generally does not identify alleged crime victims without their permission.

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The grandfather, who joined DKE at a different university more than five decades ago, said his grandson, an LSU student, was swimming in his pool over the winter holidays when he noticed wounds and bruises that were obvious signs of hazing. The grandson was uncooperative, the grandfather said, but the grandfather started to talk to friends who were familiar with LSU’s DKE chapter, who told him pledges were being doused with gasoline.

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He said he quickly realized that the national organization needed to investigate.

“The complaint to ΔΚΣ (DKE) national came solely and independently, on and from my own accord,” the man wrote in his email to other DKE alumni. “[My grandson] would not give me information about the wounds because he was protecting ΔΚΣ and his fellow pledge brothers.”

The report that the DKE national organization submitted to LSU last month squares with that account; it says the investigation stemmed a phone call from a student’s relative. It also says that members of the LSU chapter and its leadership “failed to meet the expectation to meet with the International Fraternity and participate in the investigation.”

But when local DKE alumni were notified by email on Jan. 17 that the LSU chapter would close based on the national organization’s findings, not everyone disavowed the alleged behavior.

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The local alumni president said he would resign because he didn’t believe the allegations of physical abuse. Ben Gibson, a Baton Rouge lawyer, called the situation a “f****** setup” in his response to more than 200 alumni. Gibson said late Thursday that he regretted sending the email.

In it, Gibson called out the grandson by name and claimed he was being recruited by another LSU fraternity and trying to bring DKE pledges with him. He said the student “started the beratement of DKE throughout campus” and then complained to the national chapter. He asked DKE alumni to contact the national chapter to “stop this train” of trying to shut down DKE.

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Gibson said by phone that his main complaint was that none of the pledges spoke up to the local DKE alumni about hazing allegations, and that the local chapter could have investigated the complaints before the national organization swooped in and shut down the chapter.

He said he has not read the arrest warrants, but that he still questions some of the accusations.

“No one got hit in the face with a lead pipe,” he said. “I think he’d be dead or have a broken nose at a minimum.”

Gibson’s email set off the grandfather, who had applauded the DKE national organization for swiftly investigating and responding to his accusations.

“Your email stated numerous inaccurate facts by putting the blame on an innocent 19-year-old for the failures of the Zeta Zeta Chapter to adhere to the principles of a gentleman, a scholar, and a jolly good fellow,” the grandfather wrote in response to Gibson’s email. He reiterated that his grandson held a deep loyalty to DKE and said he reported the hazing to DKE’s national chapter over his grandson’s objections.