Cal Poly confirmed that a video shot in September 2018 showing a student being waterboarded at a Beta Theta Pi satellite house does not depict hazing, according to University Spokesperson Matt Lazier.
Fraternity recruits were not involved, Lazier said, and the event shown did not take place at a registered fraternity gathering. The incident took place before Interfraternity Council recruitment started for the year.
In addition, the university found no evidence that student leaders of the chapter were aware of the events shown in the video when it was shot.
The Dean of Students Office began investigating in late September 2019 after the waterboarding video surfaced. Beta Theta Pi as a whole is not currently under investigation, and Cal Poly is unable to comment on investigations into individual students due to privacy laws.
“Where misconduct has occurred, the university applies appropriate sanctions aimed at holding students accountable; educating them; and helping them to stay safe and healthy and to avoid future violations of university policies,” Lazier wrote in an email to Mustang News.
Architectural engineering senior Michael Trunko originally sent the video to Mustang News. He said the alleged hazing was not an isolated incident. In an interview with Mustang News, residents of the house did not comment on if waterboarding had occurred at other times.
Cal Poly Beta leadership was not available for comment.
Hazing is defined by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities as any activity that causes physical or emotional harm, degradation or humiliation during initiation into a student organization.
“Hazing is not tolerated in our campus community,” Lazier wrote in the statement. “Cal Poly takes the health and safety of its students very seriously, and the university responds promptly and appropriately to all reports it receives of any activities that would threaten the health and wellbeing of any of its campus community members.”
Most recently, Kappa Sigma was suspended for violations including hazing and conspiracy to haze effective until the end of last school year. The hazing did not involve alcohol, but required pledges to answer questions about the fraternity and do push-ups for answering incorrectly
In January, Sigma Pi was also suspended for underage drinking and hazing. Their suspension ended at the end of the 2018-19 school year as well.
In October 2018, Lambda Phi Epsilon was discovered to have been forcing its pledges to do knuckle push-ups that left students’ hands bloody, as well as late-night ocean submersion and forced drinking. They were also found to have provided underage pledges with alcohol. The fraternity is suspended for a minimum of two academic years or until all past members have graduated.