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Loss of a hazing Beta Theta Pi chapter has an effect on whole Chico campus: The Orion

Fraternity suffers hazing fallout
By: Stacey Kennelly
Issue date: 8/29/07 Section: News

The Interfraternity Council enters this semester with one less fraternity and a promise to not haze potential new members.

Beta Theta Pi lost university and international recognition in June after a university investigation concluded that members of the fraternity hazed pledges.

Greg Bruce, president of the IFC and member of Sigma Pi, said the absence of Beta Theta Pi is a big loss for the council. The fraternity was known for its athleticism and popularity with sororities.

“We’ve lost 40 good guys,” Bruce said. “But now we’re down to nine frats, and that cements the fact that we have nine that do it the right way.”

Incoming freshman interested in joining fraternities do not have to worry about being hazed, he said. Bruce feels bad for the 14 newest members of Beta Theta Pi because they will never fully experience Greek life.

The hazing occurred over a one-week period and included forcing pledges to submerge themselves up to their necks in a bathtub filled with ice water for several minutes until they could provide answers to questions, said District Attorney Mike Ramsey.

Members also locked pledges in a stairwell closet and threw beer and “other disgusting things” at the men through the holes in the stairwell, he said.

Pledges were also forced to run through mud and do calisthenics, including 50 pushups at a time, Ramsey said.

Chris Bizot, 23, Mike Murphy, 22, and Matthew Krupp, 23, have been charged with hazing misdemeanors, Ramsey said. Bizot and Murphy attend Chico State. Krupp attends Butte College.

Bizot, fraternity president at the time of the alleged hazing, has also been charged with interfering with a police investigation. Bizot lied to police about the severity of the hazing and encouraged others to lie as well, Ramsey said.

Bizot and Krupp could not be contacted. Murphy, who is also The Orion’s entertainment editor, declined to comment.

Bizot has been suspended from Chico State for the fall semester, his attorney Bill Mayo said.

Murphy said he forfeited his spring tuition and grades to attend class this semester.

University Police launched an extensive investigation after receiving information that the fraternity had hazed its pledges. The person who supplied police with that information cannot be identified publicly at this time, Ramsey said.

After interviewing fraternity members, pledges and others in the university, police concluded that Beta Theta Pi had hazed its pledges and submitted the investigation to the district attorney’s office, Ramsey said.

If the case goes to trial and the men are found guilty, they will probably receive probation, he said. If they successfully complete probation, the men will be able to return to the court and ask to have the misdemeanor charges removed from their records.

Bizot’s lawyer, Bill Mayo, said the university’s written complaint did not identify specifics of the hazing, and its allegations were vague, ambiguous and did not identify an alleged victim.

He also said the originial University Police report is confidential.

The police report cited interviews by a number of fraternity members and pledges who were “openly hostile” to the University Police Department, “telling the police that they were not to be trusted, that no hazing took place and that the police were just attempting to create a situation where (none) existed,” Mayo said in an e-mail.

Bizot is “vigorously fighting” all charges, he said.

The three men were charged with misdemeanors under Matt’s Law, which made hazing a misdemeanor – or a felony if serious bodily injury is caused.

Matt’s Law was created in memory of Matthew Carrington, a 21-year-old Chico State student who died of water intoxication while pledging the unrecognized Chi Tau fraternity in its basement Feb. 2, 2005. He had been doing calisthenics and drinking water from a 5-gallon jug throughout the night, police said.

Larry Bassow, program coordinator for Greek life, said this is not Beta Theta Pi’s first sanction by Chico State and the fraternity’s international headquarters. Chico State suspended Beta Theta Pi in May 2005 for hazing.

“They were doing great,” Bassow said. “But this is not a one-time deal.”

He did not know the specifics of the last hazing incident, but he said it involved sending pledges on a scavenger hunt and punishing them if they did not collect the items in a certain period of time.

The fraternity plans to be active locally and internationally in two years.

Bassow said the fraternity’s popular long-standing reputation and strong campus presence is a reminder to all Greeks that no group is above the rules.

“It’s another black eye for the Greek system,” he said. “But rules are rules, and if you play with fire, you are going to get burned.”

Stacey Kennelly can be reached at skennelly@theorion.com

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. 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 new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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