The parents of Tucker Hipps have settled their lawsuits with Clemson University, a national fraternity, and three fraternity members.
On Sept. 22, 2014, Hipps, a Clemson student, went on a pre-dawn run with several members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and 26 other pledges. Later that day, Hipps’ body was discovered in Lake Hartwell underneath the bridge where they had been running,
According to the settlement, Clemson University will pay Cindy and Grary Hipps $250,000 and establish a scholarship in Tucker Hipps’ name for a Boys State camper to attend the school.
In a prepared statement, the Hipps said, “We lost our only son, Tucker, in a senseless way. No student should ever go to college and expect to participate in dangerous activities. No student should ever experience hazing. If your son or daughter is joining an organization and you have concerns, please be diligent. Please contact the college or university. Please talk to your children. Please take advantage of the information which is now made public about these organizations through the Tucker Hipps Transparency Act by looking at the school’s website.”
According to court records, Clemson “will educate its student body and employees that all allegations of hazing are to be reported to appropriate law enforcement agencies and that the Clemson University Police Department will continue to place an emphasis on training for responding to hazing incidents.”
The university also issued a joint statement with the Hipps’ family that talked about changes Clemson made before and after Tucker Hipps’ death to change its Greek system, including adding new staff members to implement leadership and health/wellness programing, as well as increasing new member education on hazing, alcohol, sexual misconduct, and academic success.
The statement said as a result of the changes, the 2016-17 academic year saw a substantial decrease in major charges and violations of the student code of conduct by fraternity members.
The university will also dedicate a pew in the Cadden Chapel in Tucker Hipps’ name and will determine if preserved flower arrangements from his funeral are appropriate to display in the narthex of the chapel.
According to the settlement, Sigma Phi Epsilon agreed not to take any steps to recolonize a chapter of the fraternity at Clemson before an in-person meeting with the Hipps and Clemson. The fraternity is suspended until December 2019, and cannot recruit new members or conduct organized activities.
The fraternity shall develop a case study on Hipps’ experience as part of the summer development training for regional directors and in the curriculum taught by the member safety team by May 1, 2018, the agreement said. The fraternity shall invite the Hipps to speak at its leadership programs as well, the settlement said.
“Upon return to Clemson University, the new chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon shall serve as a change agent and model for others. During the re-colonization period, money shall be raised for the Tucker Hipps Foundation,” the agreement said.