A family from Greenville County, South Carolina, has filed a lawsuit seeking $10 million in damages, alleging that their son was hazed by the Sigma Chi fraternity at the College of Charleston. The lawsuit, filed on Monday, names the fraternity, the college's Iota Epsilon chapter, the college itself, and several members of the chapter.
The complaint describes the plaintiff, Jaxson Lovelace, as an outgoing and social individual who arrived at the college in the fall of 2022. Lovelace was accepted as a pledge to the fraternity in the spring semester of 2023.
According to the complaint, Lovelace and the other pledges were subjected to verbal abuse, excessive alcohol consumption, and pressure to take drugs from their first day of pledging. They were also instructed with phrases like "loose lips sink ships" and "once you are in Sigma Chi, you are in forever."
On a specific occasion, the complaint states that a cap gun was fired next to Lovelace's ears while he lay face down on the floor, as members threw beer cans at him and poured liquid on him. When Lovelace was allowed to get up, he was demanded to clean the kitchen while members threw glass beer bottles at his feet and forced him to drink more alcohol. Lovelace was kicked in the stomach, back, and sides while being videotaped when he fell to the floor, according to court documents.
The lawsuit also mentions that when Lovelace expressed his intention to drop out of the fraternity, members harassed him to conduct an "exit interview," which Lovelace believed was an attempt to delete evidence of hazing from his phone.
As a result of the hazing, Lovelace withdrew from the College of Charleston, losing his paid tuition and scholarship with five weeks remaining in the semester.
Lovelace is seeking $10 million in damages.
In response to the allegations, the Iota Epsilon chapter of Sigma Chi was placed on a cease and desist order by both the college and the Sigma Chi organization on February 24, 2023.
The College of Charleston's Senior Director of Media Relations, Mike Roberston, stated that the school does not condone any form of hazing and takes all allegations seriously. The college's organizational student conduct page shows that a chapter membership review was conducted by the fraternity's headquarters in April, recommending a chapter suspension of at least four years or a remedial plan.
The fraternity is currently on social probation until spring 2025, meaning that all chapter events must be approved. Sigma Chi International Fraternity has not yet responded to requests for comment.
As this legal process unfolds, it is important to remember the serious consequences that hazing can have on individuals and the need for schools and organizations to actively address and prevent such behavior in order to ensure the safety and well-being of students.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
© 2024 WCSC. All rights reserved.