Pi Kappa Alpha Death at University of South Carolina

While I haven’t been posting much lately, I do want to continue to use this site to track deaths that could potentially be connected to pledging.

On Wednesday, March 18th, Charlie Terrini, Jr. was found dead (The Daily Gamecock) at an off-campus house used by the Pi Kappa Alpha chapter at the University of South Carolina. Local police have said that the death is “suspicious” and the chapter has been suspended by the national organization and the school. Some reports have indicated that he was pledging the fraternity (Cosmopolitan), and the previous evening was a “big brother” activity. It was also St. Patrick’s Day.

There is not enough information available yet, but it is looking like we may have the first hazing/pledging death of 2015.

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New UVA Alcohol Policies are Dated and Confusing (at least to me)

Earlier today, the University of Virginia released their Fraternal Organization Agreement Addendum of Inter_fraternity Council (IFC) Fraternities. You can find links to the Fraternal Organization Agreement, and new addenda covering the other three councils at this link, but this blog will focus on the IFC addendum. The Washington Post, along with many others (The Daily Cavalier, Huffington Post), has an article with some thoughts and comments.

As a couple of my colleagues have noted, this new agreement brings UVA fraternities to a level of policy consistent with FIPG from about 20 years ago. It also explicitly encourages behavior that violates virtually every national fraternity risk management policy, and thus supports behavior that would invalidate insurance coverage should an incident occur. It may also increase liability exposure to the University.

As some of the articles have noted, there is no mention of underage drinking in this agreement. In my opinion, it would be very smart of the University in particular, and the fraternities as well, to explicitly state that underage drinking is prohibited in these organizations. National fraternities already state in their policies that underage drinking is prohibited, and it is usually specifically stated as an activity that will revoke organizational insurance coverage.

Among my other questions:

  1. It appears that the addendum only covers fraternity house parties, and does not apply to third-party, off-site, events. What policies apply for those events? Are they required to be registered?
  2. Why are their two tiers of parties? Why does it matter if their are an equal number of guests, or more guests than members?
  3. It appears that the tiers are actually intended to differentiate between events with a hired bartender and BYOB events? If so, those types of events have very different expectations for hosts, and are covered by most fraternity policies.
  4. Although I have inferred that Tier II parties re BYOB, there is no indication that BYOB policies and procedures are expected. If not, who is purchasing the alcohol and funding the party? It states that at Tier II parties, individuals are allowed to bring their own hard alcohol to be left at a central bar and distributed by a sober brother. That is also a direct violation of most (probably all) national fraternity policies. (By the way, what training do these sober brothers have to oversee this designated central bar?)
  5. The policy also requires “sober brother monitors” for these house parties. How are these individuals trained? Who provides oversight for them? Why would anyone accept the personal liability of serving in this role?
  6. The policy explicitly prohibits common containers, pre-mixed drinks, kegs, etc. Has any national fraternity policy allowed these in the past twenty years?

I guess it is good to see UVA make a move toward implementing proven alcohol parties for fraternity house parties. On the other hand, it would probably make more sense to go all the way and fully implement policies that are consistent with existing policies of the national fraternities. What they appear to have with this implementation is a set of policies that are less strict than the national organizations. This results in the local chapters likely operating outside of their national policies (and thus not covered by insurance), and the university enforcing policies that are outdated.

Oh, and by the way, none of this appears to address the concerns raised by the Rolling Stone article, nor do they appear to be connected to the reasoning behind the shut down of fraternity activities since November.

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Notable Fraternity Deaths in 2014

Below are eight notable deaths involving fraternities in 2014. Most of them involve new members, or pledges, and the death may be connected to their pledging process. This list will not include other accidents, natural causes, or deaths unrelated to the fraternity membership. Seven of these deaths have been included in the data on my list of hazing/pledging deaths since 2000. Whether hazing/pledging was involved in the deaths of Dalton Debrick and Tucker Hipps is still uncertain with some people. I have included them due to the nature of the description of the events.

1) March 14, 2014
Penn State – Altoona
Altoona, PA
Phi Sigma Kappa

Marquise Braham, an 18-year-old Penn State – Altoona freshman, died after jumping off a hotel roof while home on Spring Break. It was ruled a suicide, and the family claims that it was connected to hazing activities while he was a new member, and his involvement in hazing as a newly-elected officer.

2) July 1, 2014
California State – Northridge
Northridge, CA
Pi Kappa Phi

Armando Villa, 19, died of heat exhaustion when he, and other pledges, were taken on an 18 mile hike in the Angeles National Forest. He was given a small amount of water, poor fitting clothes, and his cell phone was taken from him as he started the walk. A CSUN investigation determined that his death was caused by hazing, and the chapter has been closed.

3) August 24, 2014
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, TX
Alpha Sigma Phi

Dalton Debrick, 18 and an incoming freshman, died of alcohol poisoning following a party while pledging the Alpha Sigma Phi colony. He died before classes had begun. The national organization ended the colonization efforts after investigating.

4) September 2
Clemson University
Clemson, SC
Sigma Phi Epsilon

Tucker Hipps, was on an early morning run with other new members and actives when he went missing. His body was found near a bridge near campus, and he died from blunt force trauma. It is believed that he fell from the bridge. Rumors on campus called it hazing, but the local authorities did not agree that it was hazing.

5) September 5, 2014
Lincoln, NE

Clayton Real, 18, died of alcohol poisoning following an off-campus party coordinated by the chapter’s pledge educator. Four individuals have been charged criminally in connection with his death.


6) November 9, 2014
UC Berkeley (student from UC Davis)
Berkeley, CA
Zeta Psi

Vaibhev Loomba, 20, died of alcohol poisoning after attending a party at the UC-Berkeley Zeta Psi chapter house. The chapter had not been recognized by the University since 2010, yet still retained support and recognition from the national organization. Not hazing or pledging related.

7) November 14, 2014
West Virginia University
Morgantown, WV
Kappa Sigma

Nolan Burch died from alcohol poisoning following a big brother/little brother activity. The Kappa Sigma chapter had been shut down two days earlier by the national organization, and placed on probation in October.

8) November 17, 2014
Albany, NY
Underground ZBT

Trevor Duffy, 19, died of alcohol poisoning following an event at an underground fraternity. The student newspaper described as a big brother/little brother night. Four others at the party were transported to the hospital for alcohol poisoning.

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Should Nebraska/Farmhouse Death be considered a Hazing Death?

Four members of the Nebraska-Lincoln chapter of Farmhouse Fraternity have been arrested for Procuring Alcohol to Minor Resulting in Injury/Death (felony), and three other students charged with misdemeanor counts following an investigation into the death of Clayton Real on September 5th (1011now.com). Real was an 18-year-old freshmen, in his second week of school at UNL, and living in the Farmhouse Fraternity house. “An autopsy concluded that Real’s cause of death was acute alcohol intoxication. His alcohol level was .378.”

Thus far, the word “hazing” has not been mentioned in the cause of death, or in any way associated with the story. The article indicates that the facts of the case “do not appear to meet the elements under the state statute of hazing.”

As I read the stories, these appear to be the facts:

  • Real had joined the fraternity during summer recruitment, and then moved into the chapter house (along with 27 other freshmen) at the start of the school year. (Nebraksa appears to have a very active summer recruitment program designed to allow chapters to fill beds with incoming freshmen – provided the house is approved by the University. Farmhouse met this standard.)
  • The Farmhouse website indicates that chapters have a New Member Education program that can last up to 12 weeks.
  • On September 4th, Real attended a “Frosh Party” at an off-campus house. It was hosted by his fraternity.
  • Among those charged with felonies related to his death are the New Member Educator and the Freshman Social Chair ( I have never seen that title used in a fraternity).
  • After passing out at the party, Real was taken back to the fraternity house and placed in his room. He died later that night, and his autopsy revealed a .378 BAC.
  • Farmhouse is a member of FIPG, and their definition of hazing includes the use of alcohol in any new member event.
  • Several reports indicate that Real was a member of the fraternity, and not a pledge. If so, I am wondering when he completed his new member education and was initiated. Even if he was initiated, I don’t think that matters. He was in his second week on campus, and likely experiencing an informal initiation into the chapter.

Based on those published facts, I would say that the death of Clayton Real should be listed as a hazing death. This is no a legal designation, but an important distinction within the fraternity/sorority world. I will add this incident to the list I maintain.

As to the legal distinction of hazing, it is actually encouraging that the local police and prosecutors are focusing on the Procurement of Alcohol leading to Death charges. If they attempted to emphasize the state hazing statute, it is likely that the case would fall apart in trying to meet that standard.

On the other hand, the University of Nebraska and Farmhouse Fraternity should be willing to call it hazing as an accurate representative of how the facts are in relation to their policies. Calling it an alcohol overdose and risk management violation doesn’t seem to accurately reflect the case, in my opinion.

Within the fraternity/sorority world, Farmhouse has an excellent reputation for accountability and responsibility with their chapters. They have highly regarded leadership, resources, and educational programming. This was one of their original three chapters, and the case shows how a situation can fall apart, even with the best oversight and intentions.

The chapter has been closed indefinitely by the National Fraternity, in conjunction with the University.

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Suicide Linked to Alleged Hazing at Penn State-Altoona/Phi Sigma Kappa

The Altoona Mirror has a detailed piece on the death of Marquise Braham, a freshman at Penn State-Altoona, that they connect to his hazing as a new member, and his involvement in hazing as a newly elected officer of the chapter. He died while home on Spring Break last Friday.

If that is the case, this is the first hazing-connected death of 2014. The chapter has been suspended pending the investigation.

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50 Hazing/Pledging Deaths Since 2000

This week’s death of Chun Hsien ‘Michael” Deng, a 19-year-old Baruch College student, from physical trauma while pledging Pi Delta Psi fraternity, has prompted me to share some information from a project I am working on looking closer at hazing deaths since 2000. Using information from Hank Nuwer’s list of hazing deaths, this is the 50th entry for a college student’s death from hazing/pledging since we moved into the 2000s.

Of those 50 deaths:

  • Four have been from Asian/Asian-Interest Fraternities.
  • Six have come from National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) chapters.
  • Nine are from unrecognized/suspended/local/sub-rosa groups.
  • Two are non-fraternity/sorority related.
  • 29 come from 17 different NIC member fraternities.
  • Five women have died, 45 men.
  • Four incidents have resulted in two deaths, one incident had four deaths.
  • Lambda Phi Epsilon, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and Theta Chi have each had three deaths at three different campuses.
  • California State-Chico has had three deaths from three different incidents.
  • November (11) and February (9) are the deadliest times of the year.

Here are some details. You can check for additional information on Hank Nuwer’s list.

Non-Fraternity/Sorority (2)

Minnesota-Duluth Rugby

Florida A&M Band

Asian Fraternities (NAPA) (4)

Lambda Phi Epsilon

  • San Francisco State
  • UC-Irvine
  • Texas

Pi Delta Psi

  • Baruch College

NIC Member Fraternities (29)

Alpha Tau Omega

  • University of Georgia

Chi Psi

  • Colorado

Delta Kappa Epsilon

  • Yale (4)

Delta Tau Delta

  • Wabash College
  • Northern Colorado

Kappa Sigma

  • University of Miami

Phi Kappa Tau

  • Bradley University
  • Rider University

Phi Sigma Kappa

  • Maryland

Pi Kappa Alpha

  • Nevada – Reno
  • Northern Illinois

Pi Kappa Phi

  • California State – Chico

Sigma Alpha Epsilon

  • Texas
  • Cal Poly
  • Cornell

Sigma Alpha Mu

  • Delaware

Sigma Chi

  • Oklahoma

Sigma Nu

  • Utah State

Sigma Pi

  • California State – Chico

Tau Kappa Epsilon

  • San Diego State (2)
  • Radford University

Theta Chi

  • Indiana University
  • Lenoir-Rhyne College
  • Fresno State

Zeta Beta Tau

  • Alfred University

NPHC Fraternities/Sororities (6)

Alpha Kappa Alpha

  • California State – Los Angeles (2)

Delta Sigma Theta

  • East Carolina University (2)

Omega Psi Phi

  • Tennessee State

Phi Beta Sigma

  • Prairie View A&M

Unrecognized/Local/Sub Rosa/etc. (9)

Chi Tau

  • California State – Chico

Delta Gamma Iota

  • Vincennes University

Kappa Delta Rho

  • Lafayette College

Kappa Phi Theta

  • Rochester Institute of Technology

Men of Honor

  • Virginia State (2)

PIGS Drinking Club

  • SUNY – Geneseo

Psi Epsilon Chi

  • SUNY – Plattsburgh

Sigma Kappa Omega Sorority

  • Plymouth State (NH)

Summary by Year

  • 2000 – 2
  • 2001 – 4
  • 2002 – 7
  • 2003 – 8
  • 2004 – 2
  • 2005 – 3
  • 2006 – 1
  • 2007 – 1
  • 2008 – 5
  • 2009 – 2
  • 2010 – 3
  • 2011 – 3
  • 2012 – 5
  • 2013 – 4

Summary by Month

  • January – 5
  • February – 9
  • March – 3
  • April – 5
  • May – 1
  • August – 2
  • September – 5
  • October – 6
  • November – 11
  • December – 3
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Quick Links: Rolling Stone Article, Alabama, PKA at FIU, UNC, SF State, Fresno State, Alpha Delta at Dartmouth, TKE at Whitman

Rolling Stone article on “The Most Out-of-Control Fraternities in America.”

Gawker.com“Sorority Girls Offered Free Drinks To Vote in Local Alabama Election”Chi Omega at the University of Alabama

Pi Kappa Alpha at Florida International University:

The Daily Tar Heel“3 IFC fraternities take social suspension”University of North Carolina

Golden Gate Express“Frat hazing death spurs alcohol responsibility program”Lambda Phi Epsilon at San Francisco State (Death of Peter Tran)

Fresno BeeFresno State delays fraternity-sorority ‘rush’ to curb alcohol abuse” – (Reaction to Philip Dhanens death in 2012 , Theta Chi)

The Daily CallerDartmouth cracks down on frat that hosted ghetto party”Alpha Delta Fraternity

Whitman Pioneer“Allegations of hazing leveled against TKE initiation practices”Tau Kappa Epsilon at Whitman College

USA Today“Hazing is never OK: Column”Cornell University

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