A Cal Poly spokesperson confirmed that video obtained by Mustang News shows members of Beta Theta Pi, but said the university is still looking into the exact circumstances of the video showing a member being waterboarded. However, according to a statement from Beta, an Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities investigation is only looking into individuals at the moment, not the entire fraternity.
Architectural engineering senior Michael Trunko shared the video with Mustang News earlier this week.
Beta is not currently under any form of suspension or investigation, according to the Cal Poly chapter investigations and sanctions listings.
“The university is aware of the video clip from 2018 showing Beta Theta Pi fraternity chapter members,” University Spokesperson Matt Lazier said. “Once more information is known, we will hold those involved appropriately accountable.”
Although Trunko initially told Mustang News the video took place in Spring 2019, both the university and the national chapter said the video was from 2018.
Trunko said the waterboarding was not an isolated incident and had been done to both members and pledges.
When asked about other instances of waterboarding in an interview with Mustang News, five members who lived in the Beta satellite house said they were unable to comment.
The Beta Theta Pi National Fraternity released a statement Friday explaining they do not believe the member shown in the released video was a pledge.
The Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR) defines hazing as, “a method of indoctrination, initiation or preinitiation into a student organization or student body … which is likely to cause serious bodily injury to any former, current, or prospective student … and any act likely to cause physical harm, personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm.”
Although pledges were not believed to be involved, the Cal Poly chapter stated they are still taking the matter seriously.
“At this time, we believe the video was captured in August or September 2018 and involves a small number of men – none of whom were Beta Theta Pi pledges – acting as individuals and away from any related fraternity event,” a Beta Theta Pi headquarters statement reads. “That being said, what’s depicted as part of a reported drinking game is certainly disappointing, unsafe and in no way aligns with the values of our organization. We are in close contact with university officials.”
The university continues to investigate the circumstances of the activity depicted and is in contact with the fraternity chapter, its national headquarters, and individuals present at the event in order to determine what occurred, according to Lazier.
The Cal Poly Beta chapter said in a statement Friday morning that they are fully cooperating with Cal Poly staff as this matter is investigated.
“Our chapter is taking the actions seen in this video very seriously,” the statement read. “Once more information is known, we will hold those involved appropriately accountable.”
Editor’s Note: The Cal Poly statement was updated to reflect that they have not confirmed the video shows people waterboarding anyone.