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Greek task force named to analyze future of frats

Author(s): SHKRRY SAPP; DEANN SMITH Date: September 20, 1997 Section: News

LSU Chancellor William Jenkins Friday named a 17-member Greek Life Task Force to conduct a sweeping analysis of LSU’s

fraternity-sorority system to determine its future on the campus. “It’s time to look at the management and the operations of the Greek system,” Jenkins told the LSU Board of Supervisors.

It was the board’s first meeting since the Aug. 26

alcohol-poisoning death of Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledge Benjamin Wynne, 20. The role of fraternity and sorority advisers and parents also will be studied, Jenkins said.

A report by the task force is expected by the end of the spring semester. The board would have to approve significant changes to the Greek system.

Jenkins has suspended the fraternity, and criminal investigations are ongoing.

On Aug. 25, the SAE fraternity hosted a party at an off-campus bar attended by Wynne, who later died of alcohol-poisoning.

Another pledge, Donald K. 1 lunt Jr., nearly died from alcohol poisoning.

Hunt has sued SAE, the university, Murphy’s Bar and two of the bar’s employees, claiming he and other pledges were forced to guzzle alcohol.

On Friday, the fraternity’s attorney said Hunt asked SAE fraternity members for tickets to LSU’s Sept. 7 football game and socialized with them at the game -just three days before he sued.

“To some of them, it is obviously like a slap in the face,” said local attorney Millar Moore III, who represents the local fraternity and its president, Jason Griffin, a bartender the night of the fraternity party. “He asked for tickets, received them, socialized with them, and then a few days later Files a lawsuit.”

Griffin is one of the Murphy’s employees named in Hunt’s suit. Hunt’s attorney, Frances Strayham, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

In other developments Friday, District Attorney Doug Moreau said he may call a grand jury to investigate Wynne’s death. Moreau said no decisions have been made, but added he might call a grand jury if some witnesses refuse to talk to investigators.

Local attorney Tommy Damico, representing SAIZ rush chairman Nat Hammerli, said authorities told him his client could be called before the grand jury in the next two weeks. Damico said he hasn’t let his client talk to investigators because he couldn’t add to information police already have.

“I see no reason at all for my client to give any kind of statements to anybody. My client had nothing whatsoever to do with the unfortunate death of Mr. Wynne,” he said.

Moore said Griffin has been interviewed by police. Moore said Moreau told him this week that some witnesses who haven’t spoken with investigators may be called before the grand jury.

“He said he was going to convene the grand jury to call those who are refusing (to be interviewed),” Moore said.

Moore said Moreau indicated some could be granted immunity against prosecution.

The task force appointed by Jenkins will be chaired by Mary Frances HopKins, alumni professor Ernerita.

Members with ties to the Greek system are students Keon Anderson, president of LSU’s National Panhellenic Council; Emily Hightower, president of the LSU Panhellenic Council; and Chris Popov, president of LSU’s Interfraternity Council.

Greek-affiliated community representatives are Cathy Dardenne, Kappa Alpha Theta house corporation president; Ann Monroe, mother of a sorority member; Huntington Odom, alumnus of Delta Kappa Epsilon; Craig Johnson, adviser to LSU’s Acacia fraternity and national board member; and Walter Brock, national president of Theta Xi.

Representatives without formal Greek affiliations are Larry Centola, LSU student body president; Kirt Bennett, former LSU student body president; LuoLuo Hong, coordinator of the LSU Student Center’s wellness program; Perry Prestholdt, associate dean of the LSU Junior Division; Phoebe Rouse, LSU math instructor; and Nathan Bennett, chairman of LSU’s Management Department.

Gregory Bodin, an attorney with Taylor, Porter, Brooks & Phillips, will be a nonvoting task force member. Bodin’s firm represents LSU in the lawsuit stemming from the fraternity party, and he is a one-time fraternity house corporation officer. Kathy Marcel, longtime director of LSU Greek Affairs, is a nonvoting member.

Reporter Christopher Baughman contributed to this report. Copyright 1997 Capital City Press, Baton Rouge, La.