A video obtained by Mustang News shows what one witness described as members in Beta Theta Pi hazing a member in a method similar to waterboarding.

The university is investigating Beta. However, they are not currently under any form of suspension, according to the Cal Poly chapter investigations and sanctions listings.  

“I can confirm that the university is aware of the video you mention and is investigating the matter right now,” University Spokesperson Matt Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News Thursday.  

When pressed on when the university began investigating Beta or what video was being investigated, Lazier did not provide further comment. 

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 and have notified their national administrative office.

“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.”

The incident in the video happened at a Beta satellite house in Spring 2019, according to architectural engineering senior Michael Trunko. 

The front of the Beta Theta Pi satellite house where the incident took place.

Trunko said fraternity members and pledges were subjected to the punishment when they did not score any points in a beer die match. 

This is not an isolated incident, according to Trunko. He said brothers in Beta were known to do this to members in other instances. 

Waterboarding is when water is poured over a cloth covering the face and breathing passages of an immobilized person. It is considered torture by the United Nations Convention Against Torture

While the alleged fraternity member shown in the video was not immobilized, he was laying on the ground with his mouth and nose covered by a cloth and water from a hose spigot was spraying over him. 

Waterboarding causes the person to experience a drowning sensation.

While the video is two seconds long, it is unclear how long the hose was left on with the Beta member under it. 

Beta Theta Pi | Facebook

The allegations

Trunko came forward with his allegations after attending an unofficial Beta party at the start of Fall quarter. 

“As the night went on, they basically just kicked me out,” Trunko said. “It was obvious that they were trying to get these two girls drunk.” 

Trunko is not a member of Beta, but said he had been friends with several of the senior brothers in the fraternity. They lived in the Sequoia residence hall together during their freshman year. 

Investigation process 

The Office of Students Rights and Responsibilities 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.”

Once a complaint is made to the university, an investigation is opened by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities

After the fall party, Trunko posted about the member’s alleged inappropriate behavior and the hazing incident on his social media accounts. In one of the posts, he tagged the Cal Poly and Associated Students, Inc. accounts. Trunko said he wanted to alert the university of the incident. 


This story was updated Friday, Oct. 4 at 1:30 p.m.

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