UK’s FarmHouse chapter suspended following investigations into Hazelwood’s death


The FarmHouse Fraternity house on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, the night Hazelwood died, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Kentucky Kernel

Emily Girard

FarmHouse Fraternity’s UK chapter is suspended for at least four years following investigations into the death of former pledge Thomas “Lofton” Hazelwood by UK Police and the UK Dean of Students Office.

While the investigations did not find any evidence of “forced drinking,” “physical coercion” or other “criminal wrongdoing” related to Hazelwood’s death, they uncovered several instances throughout the fall 2021 semester in which FarmHouse Fraternity members violated university policy, according to UK president Eli Capilouto’s campus-wide email Wednesday morning.

In the email, Capilouto announced FarmHouse’s registered student organization four-year status revocation. Additionally, a national FarmHouse no-contact ruling prohibits former fraternity members from associating with the organization for seven years.

After Hazelwood died of alcohol toxicity on Oct. 18, after being found unresponsive at the fraternity house, UK Police and the UK Office of Student Conduct launched investigations.

According to toxicology reports, Hazelwood’s blood alcohol level at the time of his death was 0.354. Investigation interviews estimated that he drank approximately 18 shots of bourbon in a 45-minute period. While the report also found 94 ng/mL of amphetamine, or Adderall, in Hazelwood’s system, this is in line with his prescribed dosage, according to the police report. However, at the Oct. 18 event, while other new members were drinking with him, at least one did not drink at all.

According to the email, police and student conduct officials conducted nearly 50 interviews, received search warrants to review relevant social media feeds and consulted available video evidence in their investigations.

They discovered that Hazelwood and new members had been drinking and playing video games at the FarmHouse Fraternity house before the night’s sorority serenade, an event in which fraternities visit sororities and sing to them after Monday dinners. When it was time to leave for the serenades, Hazelwood’s peers judged that he was too intoxicated to attend, but not at a level they considered dangerous. So they rolled him on his side — just a “precautionary” measure, one student told police — when they left around 5:10-5:15 p.m.

Upon their return about an hour later, one FarmHouse member found Hazelwood unresponsive and immediately got someone to perform CPR and called 911. Lexington Fire Department arrived on scene at 6:19 p.m. to transport Hazelwood to UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital.

On a broader level, the investigations found evidence of hazing, underage drinking, use of fake IDs and failure to follow UK’s COVID-19 safety guidelines throughout the semester, which led to “a culture of noncompliance in which such activities were accepted” and also violated university policy and the Code of Student Conduct. The instances of hazing described in interviews include: personal servitude; forced wearing of apparel which is conspicuous and not normally in good taste; degrading or humiliating games and activities; line-ups and berating and an expectation of participation in activities that are illegal or in violation of university policy, according to police.

“We cannot imagine the depths of anguish Lofton’s family has faced throughout these days. And we know that no amount of time will dull the pain of a life ended far too soon,” Capilouto wrote. “We can promise, however, that we will continue to embrace and mourn with his family as long as we can provide any type of support … We also pledged to provide answers and respond in ways that would prevent something terrible like this from happening again.”

UK previously suspended all FarmHouse activities and prohibited new Inter-Fraternity Council (IFC) member activities after Hazelwood’s death. According to the briefing, new bystander intervention and alcohol awareness training programs must be completed before new member IFC activities can resume. Fraternity and Sorority Life will also be adding new staff, tasked with educating students about alcohol policy and hazing prevention.

“Nothing we announce today, or do in the future, will bring back Lofton. We cannot fill the emptiness of a life ended too early,” Capilouto said. “But … we can embrace this family and our students who are hurting, ensuring them that this UK community will be here for them always. That is our solemn and sacred task now.”

The investigations are not final, with several social media search warrants and interviews pending, but neither the police nor the Office of Student Conduct believe the results will “materially change” the investigations’ outcomes. The Office of Student Conduct will continue to pursue potential conduct charges against individual students.