Hazing News

Citing anonymous sources, TV station points to hazing for Northern Illinois University cause of death–says such practices were common knowledge.

WFLD-TV, FOX 32 News
Chicago, IL
November 21, 2012

Exclusive Investigation: NIU student died after fraternity hazing event

By Dane Placko, FOX 32 News Investigative Reporter

FOX 32 has uncovered startling details about the death of a 19-year-old student at Northern Illinois University.

SEE: NIU student found dead in frat house, alcohol suspected

Sources say David Bogenberger died on November 2nd after an alcohol-fueled fraternity hazing event for new pledges at the Pi Kappa Alpha house, and some question whether the university should have known about the event.

Authorities said right away that alcohol appeared to be a factor in David’s death, but FOX 32 has learned it was much more than that. Bogenberger drank himself to death during an annual fraternity hazing event called “mom’s night.”

“I don’t think he knew his limits,” said a student who was part of the Pi Kappa Alpha pledge class.

That student, who asked that we call him “Tommy,” heard about Bogenberger’s death from friends who where there.

“Two girls actually found him and started taking care of him, giving him water and making sure he wasn’t dehydrated, and they put him down in a room to go to sleep or pass out and he passed out on his back and just choked on his own vomit,” Tommy said.

Another student who asked that we call him “Ryan” told us he has participated at three different mom’s nights at another fraternity. He says most fraternities at NIU do it, and it works generally the same way, often on the same day.

Each fraternity pledge is assigned a junior or senior from a sorority—that’s their “mom.” The moms all go hide in different rooms in the frat, and the pledges have to knock on doors and try to guess if the girl inside is their pledge mom. If they’re wrong, they drink.

“Basically you have to run a gauntlet of liquor, and doing whatever all the girls tell you until you find the girl that’s yours. It usually involves drinking anywhere from two to five shots of liquor” each time the pledge picks the wrong door, Ryan said.

“Even if you’re sick and you know you can’t drink anymore you kind of feel peer-pressured into it. It’s being forced into doing things you don’t want to do,” he said.

Fraternities and sororities at NIU are required to apply for a permit anytime they hold a social event, and disclose whether they’re serving alcohol. If alcohol is being served the house is required to provide one “sober monitor” for each 20 guests. Records obtained by Fox 32 show that Pi Kappa Alpha never applied for a permit for mom’s night.

But some wonder whether the university still should have known about the event and done more to stop it.

“Apparently it’s common knowledge that it’s going on and it’s been going on for years,” said Dr. Jean Alberti, a clinical psychologist who studies hazing. “Anyone with any kind of intelligence should know that it’s going on and do what’s necessary to supervise it.”

An NIU spokesman says because the Pi Kappa Alpha house never applied for a permit for the party, the university had no knowledge it was going to be happening.

“You don’t know what you don’t know, and I think that’s the purpose of the investigation, to find out the details regarding this event,” said NIU spokesperson Paul Palian.

A Dekalb Police spokesman said investigators are aware of the mom’s night party and are focusing on what role it played in Bogenberger’s death. Toxicology tests should be completed by next week. NIU is conducting a separate investigation that could result in disciplinary action against any students found to have violated university conduct rules.

Gary Bogenbger, David’s father, gave Fox 32 a statement about his son: “David was a loving, kind, generous, outgoing charismatic son. He really enjoyed volunteering at church worship services in junior high and then in high school by helping with groups of young children in vacation bible school. He was always the first to lend a hand at home. We often heard him singing or whistling while working around the house. When David smiled, you couldn’t help but smile back. He loved sports from the age of 6 including baseball, basketball and football. He worked hard at his studies, and really enjoyed learning about business through competition in DECA. David was funny, well-spoken and a loyal friend. He looked forward to a successful career, happy marriage, and being a great father. David was the kind of son that any parent would be proud of.”

“Friendships were important to David. He said he wanted to join a fraternity because he thought it would look good on his resume and because many of his long-time friends were pledging with him.”

SEE: NIU student found dead in frat house, alcohol suspected

Copyright 2012 Fox Television Stations, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.


By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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