Texas State pledge dies after fraternity event, president suspends Greek chapters

A Texas State University student died Monday just hours after he attended an off-campus fraternity social event.

Police suspect alcohol could have been a factor in the death of 20-year-old Matthew McKinley Ellis, who was pledging Texas State’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.

His death prompted Texas State President Denise M. Trauth on Tuesday to suspend all Greek fraternity and sorority chapters. The move follows a similar suspension earlier this month at Florida State University, where a fraternity pledge died Nov. 3.

The San Marcos (Texas) Police Department said Ellis was already dead when friends found him at an off-campus apartment just after 11 a.m Monday. The university, in a statement, said Ellis, who lives on campus, had attended a social event Sunday night hosted by a fraternity. The university did not specify which fraternity hosted the event.

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Police were called to the Millennium Apartments in San Marcos to find Ellis unresponsive. He was declared dead at 12:28 p.m.

A preliminary investigation, police said, signals alcohol could have played a role. Autopsy and toxicology reports are pending.

Trauth said she was “deeply saddened” by Ellis’ death, which she called tragic. Her suspension bars sororities and fraternities from holding new-member events, meetings, social functions, and charity events “until a thorough review of the Greek Affairs system is completed.”

Dr. Joanne Smith, the school’s vice president for student affairs, will make recommendations as to whether Greek organizations will be reinstated. Texas State has nearly 39,000 students and 32 Greek organizations.

“It is imperative that our entire university community develop a culture that places the highest priority on the safety of its students, faculty and staff,” Trauth’s statement said.

Ellis’ death is the latest in a string of incidents this year in which a fraternity pledge has died following a Greek event. 

Like at Texas State, the deaths have brought sweeping changes at the universities. At Florida State, university president John Thrasher suspended all Greek life. LSU President F. King Alexander briefly halted all Greek activities, before allowing them, but without alcohol. Penn State officials moved discipline and monitoring of Greek organizations to the university rather than student-run councils.

Meanwhile, last week the University of Michigan’s Interfraternity Council suspended all Greek social functions over allegations of sexual misconduct and hazing.

Follow Sean Rossman on Twitter: @SeanRossman 

 

 

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