Thursday, June 21, 2007

Beta's Hazing Eliminates Chapter at Chico State

Investigation leads to fraternity losing charter

Chico-Enterprise Record (California)
By Karen McIntyre

After six weeks of investigating alleged hazing within Beta Theta Pi, Chico State University severed all ties with the nationally recognized fraternity last week.

Complaints to the University Police Department sparked an ongoing investigation that led to the discovery of possible hazing during the spring semester's pledging activities. The Student Activities Office moved "swiftly and sternly" to revoke the charter of Beta Theta Pi, associate director Rick Rees said.

Beta Theta Pi is among the largest fraternities, with about 125 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

The local chapter, which has been in Chico for 20 years, no longer exists at Chico State University.

University Police conducted several extensive interviews with members of Beta Theta Pi, Rees said.

"We are very, very convinced that these guys stepped over the line," he said. There was not one incident, but weeks of suspicious activities during the semester. But no injuries have been reported and no one has stepped forward as a victim, Rees said.

"Thank God no one was killed, this time," said Debbie Smith in an e-mail to the Enterprise-Record.

Smith is the mother of Matthew Carrington, a 21-year-old Chico State student who was pledging the unrecognized Chi Tau fraternity when he died of water intoxication in the fraternity's basement Feb. 2, 2005.

Smith said she hopes the offenders of the present case are prosecuted under Matt's Law, which bars hazing and was named after her son.

The case has been handed over to the District Attorney's Office, and Student Judicial Affairs is handling individual student discipline, Rees said.

Student Activities is responsible for deciding what happens to organizations who do not adhere to the rules, and it made the decision to revoke the fraternity.

Beta Theta Pi can appeal the decision if it chooses. The university will accept proposals from the national organization to re-form the group starting the spring semester of 2010.

Student Activities will entertain the idea of restarting the group to dissuade members from creating a rogue fraternity, Rees said.

"If five students want to call themselves a frat and rent a house, we can't do anything about it," he said.

But until 2010, Beta Theta Pi members cannot be part of any local fraternity recognized by the university.