Focus at Four: A&M addresses alcohol, drugs, hazing concerns in fraternities

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - It's not a new problem: alcohol, drug use, and hazing at fraternities in colleges across the country.

A Texas State University student and fraternity pledge named Matthew Ellis died last month. Police believe alcohol was a factor in his death, and Greek activities for the school were suspended.

In 2016, a Texas A&M University student, Anton Gridnev, died of a drug overdose in an off-campus house for a fraternity not affiliated with the university, Sigma Nu.

Michael King is president of the Interfraternity Council (IFC), the student-run governing body of all fraternities at Texas A&M.

“It is something I’m actively concerned about,” said King of incidents at fraternities that have led to injury and death. “Unfortunately, most of these things are happening at unregistered events.”

King is referring to IFC bylaws that require strict adherence to certain guidelines for fraternities’ “registered” social events. “Everything has to go through the office and be approved,” he said.

But when the events are registered, King says it’s much more difficult to control what happens there.

It’s an issue that Shante Hearst, assistant director in the Texas A&M Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, says her office is dealing with as well.

“We’re working with the student governing bodies to address what we can do,” said Hearst. “Because it is a concerning thing that’s happening.”

King says he would like to see a return to what he says fraternities are really about, and that isn’t throwing alcohol-soaked parties.

“We need to refocus on the mission and goals of these organizations,” said King.

For the full conversation with King and Hearst, see the video player above.