Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Chancellor Seeking Facts on Pitt Frat Incident Gallagher Defends Information Blackout

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Chancellor Seeking Facts on Pitt Frat Incident Gallagher Defends Information Blackout

Article excerpt

University of Pittsburgh chancellor Patrick Gallagher on Wednesday defended Pitt's decision against disclosing what happened during an alcohol-related fraternity event that left a student hospitalized and prompted the organization's suspension and a campuswide Greek Life alcohol ban.

Sigma Chi's international headquarters in Evanston, Ill., has confirmed that its chapter was the one involved and is under suspension for "apparent alcohol and drug violations." But Pitt has been unwilling to identify the fraternity.

For a third day, the university refused to say whether the event occurred at the Sigma Chi house, whether it was a pledge event, or whether the unidentified student remains hospitalized.

"I can't confirm anything because I'm still doing what you're doing. We're trying to investigate, to get all the facts," Mr. Gallagher said in his first comments on the matter. "I am waiting for the investigation to come to me, which it hasn't yet."

He said a team including representatives from Student Affairs is investigating.

"The nature of the incident was enough for us to take an immediate action. If something happened to another student while we were investigating, it would be irresponsible, so I took immediate corrective action."

He added, "Pending the outcome, we will decide what the permanent consequences are after we learn more."

Colleges can and routinely do release details about incidents of Greek Life misconduct, said Frank LoMonte, a professor and director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.

He said they can do so without releasing the sort of educational records protected by the The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. He said South Carolina law even mandates incidents of hazing be posted online.

"The bottom line is that colleges can and should disclose the narrative description of what happened when there is serious misconduct at a Greek organization," he said. …

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