Three Michigan State University students have been charged over the hazing death of a teenager who died last year from acute alcohol intoxication after being found passed out in his frat house covered in vomit and urine.
Phat Nguyen, 21, died in November after a brutal night of drinking at the Pi Alpha Phi off-campus fraternity house in East Lansing, Michigan.
Ethan Cao, Hoang Pham, and Andrew Nguyen were all charged with one count each of felony hazing resulting in death, and three misdemeanor counts of hazing resulting in physical injury for three other boys who were also taken to the hospital on the night of the incident but who survived.
The three students are due in court on June 23. All three have been released on bond.
After Phat’s death, the fraternity was suspended from the school.
Witnesses from the party said they found Phat in a ‘dirty’ basement room, ‘stripped to his shorts’ with writing on his back.
He was one of four pledges who passed out and had to be taken to the hospital that night – the other three survived despite being found with blood dripping from their noses, and ‘convulsing’.
Nuwer’s research – which involves interviews with fraternity brothers and psychologists – reveals that the entire act is underpinned by camaraderie.
‘There’s denial after the incident that occurs, a blindness among fraternity members just like the government in Bay of Pigs.
‘If you do something risky enough long enough something bad is going to occur, but they don’t see it coming. Interview after interview I find them surprised and I don’t think it’s faked surprise.
He said the only way to stop hazing is to stop the tradition of pledging – but colleges and fraternities are hesitant.
‘These slaps on the wrists are not helping anybody. I think it makes frat members arrogant and thinking. Everybody should have a good time but no one should die for a good time.
‘In doing the research and talking to people, [it seems] it’s a form of cheap entertainment – it’s a kind of domestic abuse. They call themselves brothers sons dads, it’s in a house.
‘We have to end pledging – end that power dynamic,’ Nuwer added.