Cal Poly’s chapter of the Lambda Phi Epsilon Asian Interest fraternity was suspended for a minimum of two academic years on Thursday, Oct. 18 based on a university investigation into systemic hazing of new pledges in recent years.
The university received anonymous reports that members of the chapter had taken part in the hazing and began the investigation Sept. 28.
It was determined that the fraternity was involved with hazing that included forcing new recruits and pledges to take part in painful or unsafe activities such as knuckle push-ups and late-night submersion in the ocean, according to University Spokesperson Matt Lazier. They also made pledges consume large amounts of alcohol and provided minors with access to alcohol.
The university received corroborating testimonies from current and former members of the fraternity.
The university determined that disaffiliation is the only appropriate sanction and the national fraternity has indicated its support for Cal Poly’s findings and sanctions.
The investigation confirmed that the chapter’s recognition is revoked for a minimum of two academic years or until all their past members have graduated. These sanctions are effective immediately.
“It really sucked in the moment, it was the hardest thing ever … but this is something I think everyone knows about. I know the cultural organizations haze way harder than any [Interfraternity Council] fraternity,” a source who personally witnessed the hazing, who requested their anonymity, told Mustang News.
This was one of several sources who spoke to Mustang News about the situation.
The anonymous sources said they had no idea how rough the hazing would be before pledging the fraternity. All anonymous sources said they were left with broken skin and bloodied knuckles. Some said they were left with scars.
Leadership from Lambda Phi Epsilon declined to comment.
Lambda Phi Epsilon has a history of investigations within the university. During Winter 2018, the chapter was placed on social probation for the quarter after they were found to have had alcohol at a recruitment event.
The national Lambda Phi Epsilon organization is the largest Asian-American fraternity in America, according to the chapter’s website, which has since been deleted. The rest of the chapter’s social media was deactivated Friday evening.
Lambda Phi Epsilon has had the most hazing incidents of all Asian-American fraternities, including three deaths, according to The New York Times. Two of the deaths occurred at California State Universities, Cal Poly Pomona and San Francisco State University. All deaths occurred in the last 13 years.
Under the Hazing and Conspiracy to Haze section of the Recognized Student Organization Handbook, hazing is described as any method of initiation into an organization, whether associated with the university or not, that would bring physical or mental harm, degradation or disgrace to any student.
Even if a student consents to be hazed, it is still a violation of this section. Being aware of the hazing and doing nothing to stop it is also considered a violation under the Recognized Student Organization Handbook.
Violations of law include any chargeable violation of a federal, state or local law that poses as a threat to the safety or well-being of the campus community. Hazing is also considered unlawful under Penal Code 245.6 in California, which falls under assault and battery.
Under the penal code, hazing that does not result in serious bodily harm is punishable as a misdemeanor with a fine between $100 and $5,000. If the hazing results in serious bodily harm or even death, students can be sentenced to up to a year in county jail.
Lazier said the university cannot comment on or acknowledge any individual student disciplinary actions, due to FERPA protections.
“These actions violated the law and university policies and created unsafe conditions for new recruits and members,” Lazier wrote.