Activities of Greek-letter fraternities and sororities will be suspended at the University at Buffalo at least until the start of the fall semester as the university conducts an internal review following a suspected case of hazing, UB announced Monday.
Recommendations from a yet-to-be-named panel are due by the start of the fall semester, said A. Scott Weber, vice president for student life.
The committee, which will be chaired by Graduate School of Education Dean Suzanne Rosenblith, will consist of between 10 and 15 members, including students, faculty and staff, Weber said during a news conference on North Campus.
The work to be undertaken by the Greek life review committee will include looking at educational strategies regarding the university's "zero-tolerance policy" on hazing, as well as health and safety programs for fraternities and sororities, including anti-hazing and "Good Samaritan" policies.
The committee will also review the culture of Greek life at UB more generally and assess its relationship to "university values," Weber said.
Weber called it the "right time" for such a review.
"At this time, it was really important to take a timeout," he said.
UB suspended all activities for Greek organizations Friday after learning from Buffalo police that an 18-year-old freshman suffered cardiac arrest following an incident at a house associated with the Sigma Pi fraternity on Custer Street early that morning.
Sebastian Serafin-Bazan, of Westchester County, remains in critical condition at Buffalo General Medical Center, according to Buffalo police.
Preliminary toxicology tests showed no drugs or alcohol in Serafin-Bazan's system, according to two police sources.
Fraternity brothers are believed to have ordered Serafin-Bazan to perform exercises inside the house Thursday night and into Friday morning when he began to experience physical distress, the sources said.
The 18-year-old also had recently been treated for a respiratory ailment, possibly the flu, they said.
A neighbor told The Buffalo News she was told by one of the fraternity brothers that Serafin-Bazan was carried outside to get fresh air after he fell and hit the back of his head on a coffee table.
Another neighbor said he saw four or five people carry a person from the house and place him on the front lawn. One of those individuals stayed while the others fled.
In a statement Monday, Buffalo police said the department is still investigating whether or not drugs and/or alcohol played a role in what happened.
The investigation involves Buffalo homicide detectives, University at Buffalo police and state troopers, Buffalo Police Capt. Jeff Rinaldo said.
Police ask anyone who may have information to call or text the department's confidential tip line at 847-2255.
The fraternity Sigma Pi, which lists 111 active chapters on its website, on Friday "learned of a reported allegation of health & safety policy violations at Epsilon-Omicron Chapter at the University at Buffalo that led to the injury of a pledge," Executive Director Jonathan M. Frost said in an emailed statement. "We take such allegations very seriously and our prayers go out to him and his family."
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn previously said the fraternity's lawyer asked to review the Buffalo Police homicide squad's files on the investigation. The DA said he would not permit that.
Frost took issue with that characterization.
"Contrary to prior reporting, our general counsel has not yet initiated our internal investigation due to the ongoing investigation conducted by the Buffalo Police Department," Frost said in the statement. "We are in touch with the department and once it concludes its fact-finding, our general counsel will begin our internal investigation to determine if any policy violations occurred and if corrective action is warranted."