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After hazing allegations, CSUN bans fraternity pledging

After hazing allegations, CSUN bans fraternity pledging
CSUN president Dr. Dianne Harrison, right, holds a report regarding Pi Kappa Phi fraternity hazing activities that lead to the death of CSUN student Armando Villa, during a news conference at the CSUN campus in Northridge on Sept. 5. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

As Cal State Northridge investigates another possible hazing incident, the school has banned its 54 fraternities and sororities from all recruitment and pledging activities for new members possibly until the spring, officials said.

Campus leaders said that the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was under investigation for possible hazing, nearly four months after a pledge at a different Greek organization died during a mandatory hike.

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The latest probe came in response to a complaint from "a very courageous pledge" who expressed concern a week ago about activities at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, according to campus spokeswoman Carmen Ramos Chandler. She said that no one was reported injured in the activity, but she declined to release details because of the investigation.

The 25 fraternities, 28 sororities and one coed fraternity will be allowed to induct new members but must suspend all pledge activity until the ban is lifted, she said. That is expected to last the rest of the fall semester and possibly into the spring "until the fraternities can demonstrate they understand what a zero tolerance policy is on hazing," she said.

The campus is particularly vigilant about hazing since the July 1 death of CSUN student Armando Villa, 19, during a rigorous fraternity hike during very hot weather in Angeles National Forest. School administrators concluded that was a fatal hazing incident and Pi Kappa Phi fraternity voted to shut down the CSUN chapter after Villa's death.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is expected to soon conclude a criminal investigation into the death.

In the more recent incident, the Zeta Omicron chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha was placed on interim suspension at Cal State Northridge pending the outcome of the university's investigation. Its national organization placed it on administrative suspension, campus leaders said.

"It is shocking and disappointing that this conduct persists after all the efforts undertaken by so many this fall to ensure a recruitment and intake process that conforms to the university's zero-tolerance policy on hazing," William Watkins, the campus vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said in a statement.

Leaders of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and the campus' pan-Hellenic Council could not be reached for comment Friday. Officials at the fraternity's national headquarters in Memphis, Tenn., also were not reached.

On the Facebook page of the Pi Kappa Alpha chapter at Northridge, a recent posting announced that the fraternity is supporting National Hazing Prevention Week and joined with other fraternities to "address important issues of sexual misconduct, hazing and binge drinking head on."

The Sundial, the Cal State Northridge student newspaper, reported that Villa's family welcomed the halt on pledge activities.

Douglas Aberle, attorney for the dead student's family, told the paper that "we are pleased that the university is finally taking an active role in addressing and controlling the behavior of those under its supervision. Unfortunately it has come too late for Armando. We hope universities across the country will pay close attention to what has gone on and take similar action."

However, some Greek system members told the Sundial that they thought it was unfair that all fraternities and sororities were being punished for the violations of a few.

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