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Cal State Northridge fraternity shuts after pledge's death

A Cal State Northridge fraternity under scrutiny since the death of a 19-year-old student while pledging this summer has closed, university officials announced Friday.

The national and local chapters of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity voted late Thursday to withdraw permanently from the university, university President Dianne F. Harrison told reporters.

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She said a university investigation concluded that members of the fraternity engaged in hazing.

"Hazing is stupid and senseless and against the law in California," she said.

The fraternity chapter had already been suspended pending the outcome of the university's investigation into the death of Armando Villa, which is separate from one being carried out by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Villa's barefoot and blistered body was found July 1 by fellow pledges in a ditch in the Angeles National Forest. He was pronounced dead at a hospital after being airlifted out of the canyon.

His death shocked the campus community and sparked several reforms for Greek organizations affiliated with the university.

Villa’s parents issued a statement following the school's announcement in which they condemned what they called a “barbaric ritual.”

"Hazing is an awful practice. It cost our son his life," they said. "No one else should suffer because of this barbaric ritual that endangers and ridicules others just for the enjoyment of immature young men."

But with the sheriff's investigation still ongoing, details remain scarce about what happened that day.

No one who participated in the event has talked publicly about what took place that day, frustrating Villa's parents, who say they deserve to at least know what happened to their son.

"Some people know what happened out there on the trail. They talk about a fraternity being a brotherhood based on honor, but neither the local chapter, the national parent organization of Pi Kappa Phi, nor any of Armando's so-called brothers have done the honorable thing by telling us what happened to our son," Villa's parents said.

"It is shameful behavior and we hope and pray that no other parent ever has to go through what we have suffered through."

A spokeswoman for the national chapter of the fraternity could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a statement issued two days after Villa’s death, Mark Timmes, chief executive of the national Pi Kappa Phi, said hazing “has no place in our fraternity.”

"Should the student chapter or individual members be found in violation of Pi Kappa Phi's standards of conduct through our discipline process, they will be held accountable by the national fraternity," he said.

Twitter: @LATvives

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