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UNLV releases report after death of student involved in boxing match

Updated May 17, 2022 - 6:35 pm

UNLV will review several recommendations concerning the operations of its student organizations, including more oversight for off-campus events, after a student suffered fatal injuries in a charity boxing match hosted by a fraternity last year.

Nathan Valencia, a 20-year-old junior at UNLV who was studying kinesiology, died days after entering the ring of a charity boxing match held by the Kappa Sigma fraternity in November.

Kappa Sigma was suspended by the university after school officials launched an investigation into the boxing match. Valencia’s family filed a lawsuit against UNLV and Kappa Sigma in February.

In the wake of Valencia’s death, the university asked Washington, D.C.-based NASPA Advisory Services to conduct an external review into the policies and procedures of its registered student organizations. It published those findings Tuesday.

The 27-page report from NASPA highlighted 20 recommendations, including:

■ A annual review of guiding documents for registered student organizations.

■ An evaluation of the partnership agreement between the university and its fraternities and sororities.

■ Ensuring that policies and procedures for fraternities and sororities are the same as those for all registered student organizations.

■ A registration or review process for off-campus events comparable to those for on-campus events.

■ Evaluating how faculty/staff advisers for the fraternities and sororities are staffed and trained.

Little oversight off campus

In their lawsuit against the university and Kappa Sigma, Valencia’s family accused the fraternity of failing to implement safety protocols, providing inadequate equipment for students participating in its charity fights, and using an unlicensed referee who was intoxicated during Valencia’s match.

The suit also claimed that the university knew about the fraternity’s “Fight Night” events and knew that students had been injured in years prior.

At the time of the review, nearly 80 percent of fraternity and sorority chapters did not have a true UNLV faculty/staff adviser, according to the report.

While a “highly structured process” exists for on-campus events at UNLV, the report found there was little to no oversight of off-campus events held by student organizations, including fraternities and sororities. Student leaders could enter into contracts with off-campus venues without UNLV advisers knowing, according to the report.

Following Valencia’s death, police said there was no evidence of criminality on the part of the venue, the Sahara Event Center, where the boxing match was held, and that the Nevada Athletic Commission was the governing body in charge of enforcement for the promoter of the event, according to police.

The commission later passed “Nathan’s Law,” which outlined emergency regulations for amateur boxing organizers, who now must require trained referees at events and must prove ahead of time that emergency medical personnel will be present in case someone is injured. Violators of the regulations could be criminally prosecuted.

The report also found that there was a lack of understanding and clarity around several aspects of fraternity and sorority management, including the liability waivers used by each student organization.

The team that conducted the review included two administrators from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of Miami, as well as a NASPA staff member.

In a statement accompanying the report Tuesday, UNLV President Keith Whitfield said the university would use the findings to determine the best measures for registered student organizations to function safely, effectively and with the best interest of students in mind.

More than a third of UNLV’s students participate in the more than 350 registered student organizations on campus, according to a university news release. UNLV’s Fraternity and Sorority Life oversees 38 chapters with 1,400 members at the university.

“The goal and our commitment to this process lies in never having a tragedy like that of Nathan Valencia happen again, and we extend our deepest sympathy for the pain and loss felt by the family and friends of Nathan as we continue to mourn his passing,” Whitfield said in a statement.

Contact Lorraine Longhi at 480-243-4086 or llonghi@reviewjournal.com. Follow @lolonghi on Twitter.

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