Student Files Lawsuit Against NYU Over Allegedly False Hazing Charges

A student filed a lawsuit against the university in April after the Office of Student Conduct found him and several other members of a fraternity responsible for a hazing incident that burned multiple students. The incident ultimately led the university to ban the fraternity from campus.


Tony Wu

Fraternity members sued NYU over what they claim are false hazing allegations. (Photo by Tony Wu)

Meghna Maharishi , News Editor

A student filed a lawsuit against NYU last month alleging that the university wrongfully concluded that he was involved in a fraternity’s hazing incident that inflicted burns on multiple students.

The hazing incident took place during the fall 2018 semester and was part of an initiation ceremony for new pledges to the fraternity.

The student, who is not named in the lawsuit, claims that another student wrongfully accused him of hazing and that the Office of Student Conduct then intentionally tried to implicate him and several other fraternity members of misconduct. Following an OSC investigation, the fraternity was suspended on Feb. 25.

The student also claims that the other student that reported him for hazing her partner threatened to stab him.

The lawsuit also says that the Assistant Director of Student Conduct and Operations Mathew Shepard — who handled the disciplinary procedures — had an “anti-heterosexual male fraternity bias” that he expressed while handling the case. The lawsuit then alleged that Shepard is “part of an unstated policy of NYU to eliminate fraternities entirely.”

Shepard did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication.

The student also alleges that he was threatened with expulsion. After the investigation concluded in March, the fraternity involved in this lawsuit was permanently banned from campus due to hazing and underage drinking charges. The student and other fraternity members were additionally charged with physical violence and threatening behavior.

The pledges mentioned in the lawsuit that were part of this hazing incident allegedly did not file a complaint to the university against the fraternity. The lawsuit claims that Shepard told these pledges that they had to say they suffered burns or their “academic lives” at the university would be compromised.

In a statement to WSN, university spokesperson John Beckman said that the university’s approach to the disciplinary proceedings was standard, and the series of events alleged by the lawsuit did not match with reality.

“Everything has been handled professionally, dispassionately and by the book,” Beckman said. “The Court already denied the plaintiff’s attempt to halt the disciplinary proceedings, and we fully expect that this complaint — which offers a preposterous version of events — also will fail in court.”

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, May 6, 2019, print edition. Email Meghna Maharishi at [email protected]