November 16th, 2012
Writing about hazing since 1975, I never once asked for a Greek system to be shut down for a full year. However, Chico State’s record of four deaths due to fraternity activity means that the school in good conscience must put that option on the table. The fraternity (Sigma Pi) was the SAME fraternity under a different name that was thrown off campus by Chico State following the alcohol related death of Adrian Heideman.
All told, this birthday death and three hazing deaths have occurred at Chico State–most recently Matt Carrington, which led mother Debbie Smith to lead a campaign to reform the California hazing law.
I am not saying the Chico fraternity system should be shut down. I AM saying that option MUST be put on the table by the faculty at Chico State. At this point, it does NOT seem the sororities at Chico need be punished unless there are activities the public has not known about. I also think it is necessary for California legislators to demand better accountability of Chico State in safety matters.
Clearly, the lesson the demise of Mason Sumnicht must be remembered by fraternities everywhere. All Greek groups and all non-Greeks must vow to end the dangerous practice of birthday alcohol binging, which is clearly more dangerous than non-criminal types of hazing.
Update: In my opinion, Chico State President Zingg is doing the right thing in closing down Greek activities until students themselves initiate reform.
Editorial by Hank Nuwer
Chico State student who overdosed on alcohol dies
By ASHLEY GEBB – Staff Writer
Posted: 11/16/2012 01:35:56 AM PST
CHICO — A Chico State University student who overdosed on alcohol during 21st birthday festivities died Thursday, 11 days after he was admitted to the hospital, the Butte County Coroner’s Office said.
A report on Mason Sumnicht’s death is not expected until today, and it is unknown if an autopsy will be performed.
The communication design major and San Diego native sustained severe permanent brain damage and was taken off life support earlier this week, friends said.
“It’s terrible news,” said university spokesman Joe Wills. “We are really deeply saddened to hear of his passing. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mason’s family and his many friends in Chico and everywhere.”