A Tragic Death, Our Work to Find Answers December 22, 2021
A little more than two months ago, our community suffered a heartbreaking loss. One of our students — a life filled with promise and potential — was taken from us.
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.
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. This is true for the students impacted by this unspeakable tragedy as well. We are here for you.
We also pledged to provide answers and respond in ways that would prevent something terrible like this from happening again.
As we communicated in October, the university immediately launched two investigations following this incident: one led by UK Police and the other by the UK Dean of Students Office.
These extensive investigations included nearly 50 interviews, reviews of available video evidence and reviews of hundreds of thousands of messages and exchanges on relevant social media channels and platforms.
Today, we are releasing preliminary findings from those efforts, which are detailed below:
- The reviews found no evidence of physical coercion or forced drinking. Other new members were drinking with Lofton. At least one new member who was present where the incident occurred did not drink at all.
- However, the reviews found that FarmHouse Chapter members practiced hazing throughout the semester, creating a culture of noncompliance in which such activities were accepted.
- There is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing directly related to Lofton’s death, based on the findings of the institution’s investigations to date.
- Fraudulent IDs were purchased by members, which is illegal. UK Police will be working with local, state and federal partners to address the increased use of fraudulent identification cards purchased online.
- Outside the context of the specific incident, there were findings of several violations of university policy and the Code of Student Conduct, including hazing; underage drinking and misuse of alcohol; and failure to follow UK’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
Based on these findings and after extensive reviews, the following actions have taken — or are taking — place:
- The national chapter of FarmHouse has revoked the local chapter’s status. Members who live in the house are expected to move out, and we will work with students who want to live elsewhere on campus or find other living accommodations for next semester.
- Further, the national chapter has issued a no-contact order, which means that the now former members of this chapter can have no association with FarmHouse for seven years.
- Today, we are announcing the revocation of FarmHouse’s status as a registered student organization (RSO) on campus for at least four years.
- Individual students, because of the review, could be charged with violations of UK’s Code of Student Conduct and will go through the institution’s review and hearing process.
- Enhanced and expanded education around required responsibilities for all new members of UK Interfraternity Council (IFC) chapters must be completed before activities can be resumed. Those education and responsibility programs include peer mentoring and education, alcohol awareness education and bystander intervention education and training.
- Increased staffing within Fraternity and Sorority Life has been — and is being — added with additional responsibilities for alcohol education and hazing prevention.
We cannot heal this pain. Nothing we announce today, or do in the future, will bring back Lofton. We cannot fill the emptiness of a life ended too early.
But we can come together as a community to remember and to honor Lofton’s memory. We can hold our loved ones a little bit closer. And 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.
We know you will join us in taking these next steps to ensure the health and well-being of everyone who calls this special place home.
Eli Capilouto, President
Kirsten Turner, Vice President for Student Success