Dear Commons Community,
Pi Delta Psi, an Asian-American fraternity, has been barred, for 10 years, from operating in Pennsylvania after it was found guilty of aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter in the 2013 death of a pledge at Baruch College. The hazing incident, in which Chun Hsien Deng was brutally beaten, occurred in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. As reported by The New York Times:
”The strict sentence, by a state judge, Margherita Patti-Worthington, comes amid more rigorous prosecution of fraternity members involved in hazing deaths. The fraternity and five men were charged with third-degree murder. Four of the men pleaded guilty to reduced charges of voluntary manslaughter, for which they received varying sentences for as long as two years in prison, while the fraternity was acquitted of the murder charge.
… the fraternity said it would appeal the assault and involuntary manslaughter judgments. “Michael Deng’s death was a loss not only to the family, but also to the fraternity and the community at large,” the fraternity said in a statement quoted by the newspaper.
The aggressive approach by prosecutors echoes that surrounding the death of Timothy Piazza, a Penn State sophomore who died at a fraternity party in 2017. Eighteen members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity faced criminal charges, the most serious of which were later dropped. But a county district attorney filed new charges in November, including involuntary manslaughter, against former members of the Penn State fraternity after the recovery of video that had been deleted from a basement security camera. Judge Patti-Worthington referenced the Penn State case in handing down the sentence, according to the Times.
The sentencing follows a tumultuous semester for fraternities nationwide. Several prominent colleges suspended all Greek activities campus-wide after reported deaths or injuries”.
This is a sad situation and one that colleges and universities have to address proactively and with diligence.