With more than 15.1 million high school students at 23,000 high schools in the United States, it became apparent that anti-hazing conversations and education need to begin before students enter college, as many who enter college have knowingly or unknowingly been hazed through sports teams, bands, and other clubs in high school.
Max Gruver was a new member of Phi Delta Theta at the Louisiana Beta Chapter at Louisiana State University. Two dates that will forever shape the history of Phi Delta Theta are September 14, 2017, the day Max died due to hazing, and January 8, 2020, when the Max Gruver Foundation announced a partnership with the Fraternity. Since then, Steve and Rae Ann Gruver have shared Max’s story within Phi Delta Theta. In the fall of 2022, Phi Delta Theta expanded its partnership with the Max Gruver Foundation by assisting with the education of high school students. Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and the Max Gruver Foundation created Take Action: Building New Traditions to further anti-hazing education in high schools to ensure that no more lives are affected by hazing.
This program shares the tragic story of the hazing death of Max Gruver on September 14, 2017. Max was a first-year student and a new member of Phi Delta Theta at the Louisiana Beta Chapter at Louisiana State University. Since then, Max’s parents and Fraternity have expanded to high schools to share Max’s story and help end hazing. Several Phi Delta Theta chapters have collaborated with local high schools to raise awareness about the dangers of hazing for students who are considering college. One of these high schools is Blessed Trinity, which is Max’s alma mater.
Throughout the presentation, students learned examples of hazing, how it starts, why it continues, and how students can make better decisions, build new traditions, and stop hazing before heading to college.
“Phi Delta Theta has, and always will, prioritize the safety of every member of the Fraternity,” said Sean Wagner, Executive Vice President & CEO of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. “Our partnership with the Gruver family and The Max Gruver Foundation celebrates the life and memory of Max while working to eradicate hazing.”
High school programming is prioritized in many ways by educators, but a familiar contact is what always helps open the door to an opportunity. Phi Delta Theta and the Max Gruver Foundation would like you to consider broaching the idea of bringing Take Action: Building New Traditions to the teachers, guidance counselors, principals, or others you know to the students at your alma mater or the high schools in your community. By identifying an interested high school and helping to facilitate the presentation, your chapter will have the opportunity to share Max’s story, impact your community, and help eradicate hazing.
If you’re an undergraduate leader and recommend your chapter and a high school, we’ll send you #FlyHighMax wristbands for the entire chapter. Phi Delta Theta will then work to establish the opportunity and help your chapter prepare to deliver Take Action: Building New Traditions. While fifteen presentations may not seem like many, it is Phi Delta Theta and the Max Gruver Foundation’s first step towards giving high school students the tools to step up and prevent another tragedy.