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Fraternity Hazing and Misconduct Report: Second Quarter 2019

Fraternity Hazing and Misconduct Report: Second Quarter 2019

Fraternity Hazing and Misconduct Report: Second Quarter 2019

At The Doan Law Firm, our fraternity hazing lawyer maintains an in-house database of reported incidents regarding fraternity hazing and other “misconduct” issues. Since January of 2000, we have documented over 830 confirmed instances of a fraternity being suspended from its host school for hazing-related conduct, with over 350 such suspensions occurring within the past three years.

Between April 1st and June 30th of 2019, we were able to document:

  • 22 instances of a fraternity being suspended for at least one year or being placed on suspension “pending investigation” of allegations regarding conduct issues;
  • 6 individuals arrested on criminal charges related to fraternity hazing or misconduct;
  • 4 individuals sentenced after pleading guilty to criminal charges related to fraternity hazing;
  • 3 instances in which a fraternity was either permanently expelled from campus or “allowed” to surrender its local and national charter, and
  • 2 deaths that occurred during fraternity initiation rituals or during fraternity-sponsored events.

Fraternity Suspensions

The second three months of 2019 saw fewer disciplinary actions (22) taken against fraternities than in the previous quarter (33). This decrease was probably due to the fact that the semester ended a full month and a half before this report was prepared and most fraternities were technically on “summer vacation.”

Suspensions By Fraternity

Sigma Chi: 2 suspensions (UCSD, UT-Arlington)

Tau Kappa Epsilon: 2 suspensions(Cal Poly, Appalachian State)

Theta Chi: 2 suspensions (Georgia and Penn State)

Suspensions By School

Swarthmore: Delta Upsilon,  Phi Psi

Fraternity Expelled / Disbanded

Ohio University: Sigma Pi was expelled from campus by Ohio University over hazing and alcohol policy violations related to the November 2018 death of 18-year-old freshman Collin Wiant.

Swarthmore: Delta Upsilon and Phi Psi. Both fraternities were “allowed” to disband after they were first  suspended by Swarthmore “… over leaked documents, allegedly describing activities by former members, that contained racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments including references to a ‘rape attic.’”

Deaths

Following 4 deaths in the 1st quarter of 2019, 2 additional fraternity-related deaths were reported in the 2nd quarter.

Caroline Smith, a 20-year-old Furman University student, died on April 6th after an “accidental fall” at a fraternity party held at Hilton Head Island (SC). According to Buford County Sheriff’s Department investigators, alcohol may have played a role in her death. The party she was attending had been organized by the Furman chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order.

Sebastian Serafin-Bazan, an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Buffalo, died on April 17th after being taken off life support at Buffalo General Medical Center following an incident during the overnight hours of April 11th and April 12th. According to the Buffalo Police Department, Serafin-Bazan collapsed after being ordered to perform calisthenics at the Sigma Pi off-campus fraternity house on Custer Street, in Buffalo’s University Heights neighborhood.

Campus-wide suspensions

In the second quarter of the year, 3 schools ordered campus-wide suspensions of all, or a significant number of, “Greek” organizations.

Texas Women’s University

On April 1st, TWU suspended 13 Greek life organizations that must adhere to the “Anti-Hazing” policy, found on the “Greek Life” website. This policy states that TWU has a no tolerance policy towards hazing. “It is important that all Greek organizations have read and abide by first, the Texas Hazing Law and TWU’s Hazing policy,” states the website.

University of Texas – Arlington

On April 3rd, UT-Arlington announced a campus-wide suspension of all fraternity and sorority social activities at the school to include  "social events and functions, including brotherhood and sisterhood events, philanthropic events, new member showcases and social mixers …”

University of Buffalo

On April 12th, the University of Buffalo announced an immediate campus-wide suspension of all fraternity and sorority activities while it, and the Buffalo Police Department, investigated reports that an 18-year-old student, Sebastian Serafin-Bazan, had been critically injured in an "… incident of potential hazing …" involving the local chapter of the Sigma Pi fraternity. Serafin-Bazan died on April 17th.

Lawsuits

Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Gamma Chapter, West Virginia University

As we previously reported, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity’s West Virginia University chapter was the target of a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed on behalf of David Rusko, a fraternity member who suffered a catastrophic brain injury on November 10, 2018. The suit alleges that after Rusko fell down a stairwell at the fraternity house, his fraternity “brothers” waited two hours before summoning EMS and, during that interim, took “selfies” with the critically-injured Rusko rather than calling for assistance. As a result of that delay, Rusko will require a lifetime of skilled nursing care.

Arrests

We documented that 6 fraternity members were arrested (3 from Kappa Alpha Psi at Virginia State and 3 from Pi Kappa Psi at LSU) on fraternity hazing-related charges.

Virginia State University: Kappa Alpha Psi

On April 28th, Virginia State and the Petersburg (VA) Police Department announced that three members of Kappa Alpha Psi (Deonte Barkley, George Feggins, and Michael Snipes) had been arrested in connection with an off-campus hazing incident and that the fraternity had been suspended pending investigation of that incident.

LSU: Pi Kappa Phi

On May 21st, LSU announced that 3 unnamed members of Pi Kappa Phi had been arrested on misdemeanor charges related to hazing and other violations of LSU policies. Since the fraternity was already on interim suspension for other charges, it was suspended and its national charter was revoked until 2023.

Sentenced

The fallout from the February 2017 death of Timothy John “Tim” Piazza at Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity house continues. On April 12th, a judge in the Centre County Court in Bellefonte PA passed sentence on 4 former members of the now-banned Beta Theta Pi fraternity after they entered guilty pleas to charges related to their involvement in the death of Timothy Piazza. The four are:

  • Luke Visser: two to six months in jail and three years of probation
  • Joseph Sala: three to 10 months of house arrest plus two years of probation
  • Joshua Kurczewski: three to nine months in jail and one year of probation
  • Michael Bonattuci: one to six months in jail plus one year of probation

In addition to their sentences, the four were also ordered to pay fines and to perform community service.

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