Will New Punishment Curb Future Frat Hazing?

Posted on February 16, 2018 by Selingo Guagliardo

empty wheelchair in a hospital

It was freezing cold when a college fraternity pledge was blindfolded, strapped to a backpack full of sand and led into the mountains. There, he was assaulted by his frat brothers as a rite of passage, but something went wrong. Now a judge has handed down a decision that could shake Greek life all over the country, but will this measure help curb future frat hazing incidents?

Did Frat Hazing Cause Pennsylvania to Ban a Fraternity?

The young man was a pledge for the Pi Delta Psi fraternity out of City University of New York’s Baruch College. He and his fraternity brothers were vacationing in the Poconos when the hazing ritual happened. During the assault, the young pledge fell unconscious. The other fraternity members took him inside, but did not call for medical assistance until the next day. By that point, it was too late and the young man died.

Unfortunately, hazing deaths like this are not uncommon. In February of last year, a pledge for the Penn State chapter of Beta Theta Pi fell down a flight of stairs. He had been forced to binge drink before falling down the stairwell and hitting his head multiple times. The fraternity members didn’t call 911 until the next day, which was too late for the young pledge.

In the case involving Pi Delta Psi, prosecutors not only levied charges against the frat members involved, but they also filed criminal charges against the fraternity’s national branch. This has resulted in a Pennsylvania judge banning the fraternity from operating in the state for 10 years. Such a ruling is unprecedented, and many are hoping this will strike a chord with other Greek chapters all over the country.

Though the Pi Delta Psi fraternity members received jail time and the national branch was charged $112,000 in fines, the families who lost their children to incidents like this may not see any compensation from the criminal cases. They must instead rely on the civil courts to find justice for those they have lost. Contacting a good lawyer is the first step in that process.