The fraternity Pi Delta Psi has been banned in the state of Pennsylvania for the next decade, after a Baruch College freshman died following a brutal hazing ritual.
NBC News explains that in November, the national Asian-American fraternity Pi Delta Psi Inc. was convicted of aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 18-year old Chun Hsien Deng. (Four individual members of the Baruch chapter pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and hindering apprehension in May.) The New York Times recounts:
The student, Chun Hsien Deng, had traveled in December 2013 from New York City to a rental house in the Poconos where he was supposed to finish the pledging process for Pi Delta Psi, an Asian-American fraternity. Early on a frigid morning, Mr. Deng—blindfolded and wearing a backpack weighted with sand — was tackled and pushed around by fraternity members before he fell unconscious, the authorities said. He never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead the next day.
“This has proved to be the most troubling case to me in 19 years,” said Judge Margherita Patti-Worthington upon handing down the decision. She also hit the fraternity with the maximum fine allowed under law, which is $112,500. The national organization also has to inform “all colleges and universities across the country where it currently has or has ever had a chapter, associate chapter or colony, or where they plan to host or establish them” about the matter. The Times adds that the frat plans to appeal, claiming that the severity with which this chapter undertook the ritual was a “deviation and departure” from usual practice.
The move against the national organization is an uncommon strategy for combating hazing—and, according to Professor Hank Nuwer, who follows hazing cases: “I think it’s a strategy that may work.” It’s one that may look appealing to prosecutors looking for ways to fight hazing going forward.