Ex-BGSU student sues university and administrators for hazing suspension after Foltz’s death
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (WTVG) - Former Bowling Green State University student Chase Weiss is suing the university and its administrators over the disciplinary action taken against him for the hazing death of Stone Foltz in March 2021.
13abc’s media partner, the Toledo Blade reported that the lawsuit was first filed in January under the name John Doe. But, in September Judge Jeffrey Helmick of U.S. District Court in Toledo said the plaintiff must either identify himself or drop the suit.
A new complaint was filed on Oct. 31, which included the plaintiff’s full name: Chase Weiss, of Beachwood Ohio. He was an undergraduate at BGSU and was on track to graduate between fall 2021 or spring 2022.
In this complaint he not only pursued in suing the university, but also the president, the dean, two associate deans and an associate vice president, the Toledo Blade reported.
Weiss was one of eight students who faced Code of Student Conduct violations for their alleged involvement in Foltz’s death, and after an investigation, he was suspended from the university for eight years, had the suspension noted on his academic transcript and was prohibited from entering BGSU’s campus.
The Toledo Blade reported that, in the complaint against the university and some of its administrators, Weiss’s attorneys argued that his constitutional, federal statutory and contractual rights were violated.
Weiss seeks a judgement ordering the reversal of all decisions and sanctions made during the code of conduct hearing, re-establishment of his position and standing at BGSU, plus damages.
Judge Helmick has dismissed multiple counts against multiple defendants, though did not dismiss the claim that BGSU Dean of Students Christopher Bullins violated Weiss’s 14th Amendment right to due process, according to the Toledo Blade.
This claim came from the denial of Weiss’s right to cross-examine his accuser. Weiss has filed a notice of appeal to the dismissal in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
According to the Toledo Blade, on July 7 and 8, BGSU held a hearing for all eight students charged with conduct violations. Bullins said each respondent would have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and other respondents, and present information.
Weiss did not have the chance to cross-examine at least four respondent or his accuser. He did interview five witnesses, two of which didn’t know who he was, and another two said they hadn’t seen him attended the alleged hazing event.
“When questioned by Weiss, all the witnesses stated that they did not have any evidence that Weiss specifically incited, aided or abetted hazing,” Weiss’s complaint said.
Additionally, the Toledo Blade said complaint alleged that an associate dean involved admitted having no evidence that Weiss had any interaction with Foltz, that the defendants should have been aware of fraternal traditions involving hazing and alcohol, according to the Toledo Blade.
More specifically, the complaint stated that the defendants should have known about the hazing traditions in Pi Kappa Alpha as the fraternity had previously faced conduct charges and probation.
Lastly, Weiss alleged the training material given to his 2019 pledge class were insufficient and made no mention of the fact that letting an underage person drink in one’s presence may be conduct violation or crime and didn’t have the fact the overconsumption of alcohol has caused nationwide fraternity deaths.
Weiss received a letter saying he was responsible for all charges four days after the hearing. He then filed an appeal on July 20, 2021, which was denied 10 days later, the Toledo Blade reported.
BGSU and the administrators named in the lawsuit have until Nov. 28 to reply to Weiss’s new complaint. In May, the defendant did file a response to the original complaint, according to the Toledo Blade.
“In this litigation, [Mr. Weiss] does not ask this court to review his misconduct or the resulting suspension. He asks instead for a determination that the notice, two-day hearing, and appeal he already received were fundamentally unfair,” the response stated.
The university and other defendants filed a motion to dismiss the original complaint for lack of jurisdiction, and said Weiss, “received a fundamentally fair student conduct process,” the response stated.
BGSU spokesperson Colleen Rerucha said no appeal would stop the university from achieving its mission of eliminating hazing.
“Hazing has no place at Bowling Green State University, and we are unapologetic in our efforts to hold individuals and organizations accountable through a fair and thorough disciplinary process,” Rerucha said. “We remain committed to eradicating hazing and this appeal will not distract or deter us from that mission.”
A case management conference has been scheduled for Dec. 5.
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