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Entries in Fraternity (8)

Wednesday
May012013

Frat Party Violence Escalates at Arizona State University

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(TEMPE, Ariz.) -- In the latest instance of what has become a persistent problem in the Tempe, Ariz., area, five people were arrested at a fraternity brawl near Arizona State University, which police say involved baseball bats and gunfire.

Tempe police say a party at the Delta Kappa Epsilon apartment complex came to a violent end early Sunday morning after two non-students were attacked by fraternity members during a fight over a woman. Much of the incident was captured by surveillance cameras.

One of the fraternity's members remains in intensive care Wednesday, and police expect more arrests in addition to the five people already charged. The arrests are the latest incident as a university and city try to reign in a party culture that some say is getting out of hand.

The fight, which began with a shoving match at the party, was captured by security cameras, and newly released 911 tapes reveal the incident's escalation.

"Somebody came in with a baseball bat and smashed somebody in the face," a caller told the 911 dispatcher. "You need to get over here right now."

At that point, gunshots were fired. The ensuing panic sent hundreds who were at the party running for their lives. No one was shot. Three of the alleged attackers remain in custody on Wednesday. Two others were booked on misdemeanor charges of trespassing. But Arizona State University's neighbors say they've had enough.

"Eight months of constant partying, constant underage drinking … the cops may show up but they never got shut down. The music was always going," one neighbor told ABC News.

Since ASU closed all on-campus Greek housing in 2012, the fraternities and sororities have filled nearby apartment complexes. Since then, neighbors say crime, loud parties, and violence have skyrocketed.

"You have parties that grow to 50-plus people and they are drunk. It can feel threatening," a neighbor said.

At the same apartments where this weekend's melee took place, two rival fraternities were caught on tape brawling it out last November. In March, two female students were hospitalized for burns after police say someone at the party threw a bottle of alcohol into an open fire, causing an explosion.

"The bottom line is, we're going to respond, and we're going to take care of the situation," Tempe Council Member Joe Navarro said. "And we want our residents to know that they live in a safe area."

Arizona State officials say they are working with off campus fraternities to move them back on campus by the fall semester. Delta Kappa Epsilon tells ABC News that their members were attacked unprovoked and there was no fraternity party in the apartment complex the night in question.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr272013

Asian-American Frat Under Fire for Blackface Video

Youtube(IRVINE, Calif.) -- The Lambda Theta Delta Fraternity at the University of California, Irvine, has apologized after the release of a YouTube video featuring one of its members in blackface.

The video depicts members of Lambda Theta Delta, an Asian-American fraternity, performing to the Justin Timberlake Song, “Suit and Tie.”   Members say it was designed to promote an upcoming fraternity event.

Halfway through the clip, one of the members, in an attempt to portray rapper Jay-Z, appears made up in blackface.

Blackface is a type of theatrical makeup popularized in American minstrel shows in which typically white performers painted their faces black to create a caricature of a black person.  The shows commonly played on racial stereotypes and have long since disappeared from the scene.

“I feel personally offended at that act whether it was for ignorance, whether they just didn’t know about it, I feel like that’s not an excuse,” Ayana Baines, member of UC Irvine’s Black Student Union told ABC News affiliate KABC-TV.

Lambda Theta Delta President Darius Obana told KABC-TV the makeup was meant to distinguish one of the performers as Jay-Z.  “In a nutshell it was pretty much just to play that role and be Jay-Z and kind of distinguish himself from the other guys in the video,” he said.

The fraternity removed the video and apologized after the uproar, issuing the following statement on its Facebook page.

“Lambda Theta Delta sincerely apologizes for the extremely racist content of the ‘Suit and Tie’ video. The use of black face in the video is incredibly offensive as well as insensitive. This behavior is simply unacceptable and the individuals responsible for the video have already been reprimanded.”

The statement explained that the members who produced the video were ignorant of the history of blackface in America, and that the video was removed when other fraternity members who were aware of its potentially offensive nature became apprised of its existence.

Some UC Irvine students, however, said that the fraternity members who originally posted the video knew it could be viewed as offensive because they had inserted a disclaimer into the video that said, “no racism intended.”

School administrators are investigating the incident to see whether disciplinary measures are warranted.
“Once that investigation is concluded, we will determine where the facts lie, what appropriate measures should be taken, and if discipline is called for,” UCI Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Thomas Parham told KABC-TV.

Obana says that fraternity members have been harassed in the wake of the video controversy, and said that it wasn’t a “very educated,” move to post the video online.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec192012

Authorities Issue 22 Arrest Warrants over NIU Frat Hazing Death

Comstock/Thinkstock(DEKALB, Ill.) -- Authorities in Dekalb, Ill., have issued 22 warrants for the arrest of students at Northern Illinois University for violating the state's hazing statute in connection with the November death of a freshman at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house.

David Bogenberger, 19, died on Nov. 2 of a cardiac arrhythmia, with alcohol intoxication as a significant condition contributing to death, at an unsanctioned party, the Dekalb Police Department said.  At the time of his death, Bogenberger's alcohol level was at five times the legal limit, according to the DeKalb County Coroner's Office.

Lt. Jason Leverton with the DeKalb Police Department told ABC News that two of the students charged voluntarily turned themselves in Tuesday night, and are now out on bond.

"What we did is reach out by phone, let them know charges were filed and gave them the opportunity to turn themselves in," Leverton said.  "We'll check back in a few days, wherever they are."

Warrants for class 4 felony hazing were issued to five of the fraternity's leaders, including the president and vice president, while 17 members of the fraternity, who according to police "are the individuals that actively participated in the provision of alcohol," were issued arrest warrants for class A misdemeanor hazing.

Leverton said that the school shut down the fraternity after Bogenberger's death, though some of those who have been issued warrants may still reside at the privately-owned house.  He said that, as far as he knows, the students are still attending NIU, but as of the weekend, many have left for holiday break.

On Nov. 2, the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity held a party called the "parent's night," which involved the assignment of "Greek dads and moms" to students pledging the frat, police said.  The Greek dads are upper classmen in the fraternity that serve as mentors to the pledges, while the Greek moms are members of associated sororities.

The "parent's night" involved the pledges rotating between several rooms in the fraternity house, being asked a series of questions, and then being provided cups of vodka and other liquor to drink.  This resulted in the pledges drinking a large quantity of alcohol in about a two-hour time period.

"[Bogenberger] was friendly, he was gregarious, he liked to be liked, he wanted to be accepted and the terms that were placed on his acceptance into this fraternity were ultimately fatal to David," Peter Coladarci, the attorney for the Bogenberger family said.  "It's a national problem.  Over 1,800 kids between 18 and 24 die every year, alcohol and unintended alcohol-related incidents, many of them hazing related."

Pail Palian, director of media and public relations for NIU, said that the school is investigating the incident separately from the police.

"We placed the fraternity with temporary sanctions, which [included] the temporary loss of student organization recognition," he said.  "That did not allow the frat house to conduct any business."

On Dec. 7, the university delivered the fraternity notification that 31 members of the frat, or those seeking membership, were in violation of the student code of conduct.  Palian said the school is cooperating with the local police, and that if they receive more information based on the police investigation, they will alter some of the cases that students are facing, on a case by case basis.

Gary and Ruth Bogenberger released a statement in conjunction with the issuing of the arrest warrants.

"[We] must acknowledge the concern we feel for the families of those charged today.  The events of Nov. 1 and 2 unalterably changed the course of too many lives.  And for what?" they said in the statement.  "We have no desire for revenge.  Rather, we hope that some significant change will come from David's death."

The five students facing felony charges could get one to three years in prison, if convicted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr102012

BU Hazing: Students Bound, Covered in Fish Sauce

Thinkstock/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Five Boston University students were found bound and covered in condiments, their heads partially shaved, in the basement of a frat house Monday in Boston.

Boston police arrived at the Alpha Epsilon Pi home to investigate a report of a party, but when the partygoers fled, cops found five adult men in their underwear with their hands taped behind their backs, kneeling on the basement floor. The men were covered in chili sauce, coffee grounds, honey, mustard, hot sauce, flour and empty sardine cans, according to a police report.

Police are investigating other Boston University students, all of whom are members of the fraternity, in connection with the incident. Some of the suspects were questioned at the home where the men were found bound, after they hid in upstairs bedrooms and closets when police broke up the party.

Eleven members of the fraternity, which is unsanctioned by the university, live in the home where the men were found.

Police said they found the students "shivering" with "horrified fearful looks on their faces." The men did not respond when police asked if they were okay, though, according to the police report, one "victim looked right at Officer with tears coming down his face shook his head from right to left indicating no."

They were covered with red welts and condiments, and parts of their heads had been shaved, according to police.

Officers notified the Boston University police, who arrived at the scene to help interview victims and suspects, the report said. None of the suspects interviewed would explain why the men were bound in the basement covered in the condiments.

The police also found a keg of beer and multiple cups of beer flecked with sardines.

A spokesman for Boston University told ABC News affiliate WCVB that Alpha Epsilon Pi is not a sanctioned fraternity and the university does not approve of the alleged behavior.

"Boston University finds these allegations troubling and takes them very seriously," said spokesman Colin Riley.

The university opened its own investigation into the matter, and is looking into the alleged behavior of nine students involved, according to WCVB.

"If we find it's a violation of our code of student responsibilities, then their status as a student at the university could be in jeopardy," Boston University Dean of Students Ken Elmore told the station.

Boston police told ABC News their investigation is ongoing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec142011

Vermont Frat Suspended over Rape Quiz

Hemera/Thinkstock(BURLINGTON, Vt.) -- A fraternity at the University of Vermont has been suspended after circulating a quiz asking members who they would most like to rape.

The survey, which included other more mundane questions about age and grade level, ended with the question, "If I could rape someone, who would it be?"

The quiz, which was given to frat members, was passed from a student to administrators. The school suspended the fraternity Tuesday night and launched an immediate investigation into the quiz and the frat, according to ABC affiliate WVNY.

"This is very appalling to us, quite shocking and quite disconcerting," said Annie Stevens, the associate vice president for student and campus life at the University of Vermont, located in Burlington, Vt.

The national organization of Sigma Phi Epsilon, which oversees campus chapters, called on the University of Vermont chapter to cease operations.

"Sigma Phi Epsilon and its leadership programs are built on the concept of respect for both self and others. Any behavior that demeans women is not tolerated by the fraternity," the organization said in a statement.

The national fraternity said it, too, is investigating the Vermont chapter for policy violations.

While the university was not available for comment about whether the quiz identified any current students as possible targets, they did confirm to WVNY that police are now involved in the investigation into the fraternity.

"Police services are involved," Stevens said. "It has to with the safety of students, since it references rape."

The campus police were not able to comment on the investigation. Burlington police said they were not involved.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct172011

University of Iowa Weighs Adding a Gay Fraternity on Campus

Scott Morgan/Getty Images(IOWA CITY, Iowa) -- The University of Iowa may be the site of the newest chapter of Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity for gay and bisexual men, and their straight allies.

The university will gauge student interest in opening a chapter at a meeting Oct. 25, but until then Kelly Jo Karnes, associate director of the university's Center for Student Involvement and Leadership, is confident that "all signs say yes, there is interest."

Karnes and her colleagues are encouraged by the success of a Delta Lambda Phi chapter that opened in 2005 at nearby Iowa State University.

"We know, OK, this can work in the Midwest," Karnes said. "We don't need to be in an East Coast or West Coast school to do this."

Opening a chapter of a gay fraternity is part of a larger strategy to expand Greek life on the University of Iowa campus, said Karnes. "We want to make sure we're offering a wide variety of groups," Karnes said. "You don't have to have a cookie-cutter experience in Greek life."

Chris Newman, the executive director of Delta Lambda Phi, said that interest in the gay fraternity has grown. Last year alone, it added eight chapters, increasing the total number from 19 to 27 nationwide. The fraternity has outposts at such schools as New York University, Vanderbilt and the University of Arizona. There's even a "colony" chapter at McGill University in Montreal. While still a small, Delta Lambda Phi is larger than gay fraternity Sigma Phi Beta or Gamma Rho Lambda, a lesbian sorority.

Newman said starting Delta Lambda Phi chapters at Midwestern state schools can be easier than opening them in large urban centers of the Northeast.

"A lot of those Midwestern schools, they are sort of these little liberal centers in typically conservative states, and they have very strong Greek systems because there isn't much else to do when you're in the middle of a cornfield," he said. "We actually struggle in urban areas, because there's no interest -- there are so many other outlets."

For Joe Picini, co-founder of BornLikeThis.org, an LGBTQ support website, gay fraternities might be stronger in rural areas because lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning students don't have as many outlets available to them. An alumnus of New York University, Picini was vice president of the campus chapter of Delta Lambda Phi. "In urban settings," he said, "there is already a very strong sense of a gay community."

Schools that don't have gay Greek organizations often offer other social and service opportunities for LGBTQ students. William Atkins, assistant director of Greek life at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, said the school hadn't yet measured student interest in starting a gay fraternity, but that LGBTQ students who were already in Greek organizations worked for the community through Lambda Alliance, a group that recognizes sexual diversity in fraternities and sororities.

An increase in LGBTQ services could be part of a broader movement that recognizes gay marriage and gays serving in the military. "There's a widening conversation in general about the lives of LGBTQ people," said Gabe Javier, the director of the LGBTQ campus center at University of Wisconsin-Madison. And that leads to more resources being provided across the board, from community groups to LGBTQ-focused Greek life.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun282011

Cornell University Frat House Sued for $25M over House Hazing Death

BOB STRONG/AFP/Getty Images(ITHACA, N.Y.) -- The heartbroken mother of a Cornell University sophomore is suing a fraternity for $25 million after members allegedly kidnapped her son, blindfolded him, bound his hands and feet, and forced him to drink so much alcohol that he passed out and died.

George Desdunes, the son of a Haitian immigrant, was pronounced dead on Feb. 25 from alcohol poisoning at Cayuga Medical Center. Desdunes' blood alcohol level was .409 -- more than five times the legal limit, according to the family's lawsuit.

Desdunes' mother, Marie Lourdes Andre, is suing Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity for $25 million in the wrongful death of her only son.

Desdunes, 19, an aspiring doctor member of the SAE fraternity, was grabbed by freshmen pledges of the fraternity who tied him up with zip ties and duct tape. The pledges are alleged to have asked him trivia questions about the fraternity. If he answered incorrectly, he reportedly had to do exercises such as sit-ups, or consume various foods and drinks including sugar, flavored syrups and vodka.

Desdunes reportedly passed out, but instead of being brought to a hospital he was reportedly taken to the fraternity house while still bound and left on a couch in the library. A housekeeper discovered Desdunes and called 911, and Desdunes was later pronounced dead at Cayuga Medical Center.

His mother said in a statement, "With the death of my son, I find some comfort in knowing that this lawsuit may bring about changes in fraternities that will prevent other families from suffering as I have."

In the past year Andre's lawyer William Friedlander and his co-counsel have prosecuted more than 15 hazing cases, and most of them, he said, involved deaths from drinking. Friedlander said at least five other deaths have occurred at SAE chapters since 1997.

SAE has more than 240 chapters and nearly 300,000 initiates. The fraternity released a statement in response to the lawsuit, referencing SAE's "zero-tolerance policy" for members who don't comply with regulations: "Members are expected to adhere to our fraternity policies and to uphold behavior consistent with our creed, 'The True Gentleman.'"

SAE also made note that it sponsors an anonymous hazing hotline at 1-888-NOT-HAZE.

"There's absolutely nothing this organization endorses or publishes that would be an endorsement for hazing," Sigma Alpha Epsilon spokesman Brandon Weghorst told ABC News. "Our leadership won't hesitate to take action against individuals who do not follow our regulations or who breech our risk management."

In response to Desdunes' death, Cornell withdrew recognition of SAE for the next five years, which means the fraternity will not operate on Cornell's campus during that time. In a statement Cornell University spokesman Tommy Bruce said the school would be following the litigation closely, and "Cornell University neither condones nor tolerates hazing or the type of activities that we understand contributed to George's death."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb072011

One Dead, Eleven Wounded in Ohio Frat House Shooting

Photo Courtesy - WYTV Youngstown(YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio) -- One person is dead and 11 were wounded after someone opened fire at a Youngstown State University fraternity, police said.

The shooting happened early Sunday, and Youngstown, Ohio, police said they are still investigating.

"It was a frat party that was going on," Youngstown Police Department Lt. Franklin Palmer said.

No arrests have been made, but at least one suspect has been identified, Palmer said.

According to YSU officials, the man who was killed, identified by the Mahoning County coroner's office as 25-year-old Jamail E. Johnson, and at least six of the wounded were students at the school.

Johnson was shot in the head and legs, the coroner's office said.

School officials said police believe that even though there has been no arrest, there is no further threat to the university's students, faculty or staff.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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