A Pennsylvania judge banned the Pi Delta Psi fraternity from the state for a decade, a punishment for a hazing death in 2013, and an unprecedented step that will likely shake the Greek national system.
Chun Hsien Deng, a pledge from Baruch College of the City University of New York, was on holiday in Poconos with his brothers in the fraternity when he died during a hazing ritual called "glass ceiling".
Deng, known as Michael, had a heavy backpack full of sand tied to him, blindfolded and assaulted in freezing temperatures. He fell unconscious and died the next day. The other members of the fraternity did not seek medical attention for Deng until it was too late, according to court documents. They took him inside and tried to revive him, but they never called an ambulance.
The case attracted national attention in the midst of a culture with much less patience for hazing than in previous decades and more willingness among prosecutors to file aggressive charges, experts said.
It should also be noted that the national fraternity chapter was processed successfully, a relatively rare strategy. Pi Delta Psi, whose national branch did not respond to a request for comment, was charged with aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter. He was ordered to pay more than $ 112,000 in fines and can not operate in the state where Deng died for 10 years. It has two chapters in the state: one is inactive at Carnegie Mellon University and the other at Penn State. Neither of the two chapters was involved in the hazing that killed Deng.
"I think these are extraordinary moments in terms of frustrations in [the] part of the fraternities and schools to stop hazing," said Hank Nuwer, a journalism professor at Franklin College who has written extensively on hazing and fatalities. "This case here imposes something that will send and has sent tremors through the Greek world."
Never before had a fraternity or brotherhood been excluded from a whole state, Nuwer said. Only individual chapters have been closed for long periods in the past.
Although the judge's ruling will only affect the two Pennsylvania chapters, Nuwer said, he raised what would happen if the same punishment came in Timothy Piazza's case. , a promise from Penn State Beta Theta Pi who died after a night of heavy drinking.
Piazza fell 15 feet down a stairway last February and hit his head several times. He suffered extensive internal bleeding, but his fellow fraternity members did not call 911 until the next morning; instead, they tried to wake him up after losing consciousness by splashing liquid on his face.
Nuwer said that the most severe penalties can send a message to the fraternities.
"It seems that #work and other zero-tolerance movements towards behavior problems [are] finally hit the subject of hazing," he said.
A total of 37 people were initially charged in the Deng case, including five members of Pi Delta Psi accused of third degree murder. Four of them later pleaded guilty to minor charges in an agreement with prosecutors and were convicted Monday. Three of the men received up to 24 months in jail, and the fourth, who previously could not pay bail, was sentenced to time served after spending 342 days in jail.