Hazing News

January may see four students sentenced to genuine prison time: NY Times writer Rick Rojas

Januarycould see the harshest jail time for a hazing death. Michael Deng’s family has requested a suitable punishment.

The school is based in New York. The homicide occurred in Pensylvania.

Excerpt from The New York Times

Four fraternity members from New York City are expected to be sentenced on Monday after they pleaded guilty to charges that stemmed from the death of a Baruch College freshman who fell unconscious during a hazing ritual at a weekend retreat in rural Pennsylvania four years ago.

Neary two years after the death of the 18-year-old student, Chun Hsien Deng, prosecutors in Monroe County, Pa., announced that 37 people had been charged, and that the four men — as well as the fraternity itself, Pi Delta Psi — faced the most serious counts, including third-degree murder and aggravated assault.

Last month, after a seven-day trial, a jury acquitted the fraternity, Pi Delta Psi, on charges of third-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter, but the fraternity was found guilty of numerous other charges, including aggravated assault, involuntary manslaughter and hindering apprehension by concealing or destroying evidence.

The students had come to the Poconos from New York City in the winter of 2013 for a retreat for potential members to be initiated into Pi Delta Psi, an Asian-American fraternity. Mr. Deng, who went by Michael, was one of the pledges, and the authorities said he was knocked out during a ritual in which he was forced to cross a frozen yard while wearing a blindfold, carrying a backpack weighed down with sand while being pummeled by other fraternity members.

Prosecutors said the students delayed in seeking medical aid for Mr. Deng, and instead tried to resuscitate him themselves and called fraternity leaders who told them to hide anything bearing the fraternity’s name or symbol.


Mr. Deng, above, was pummeled by fraternity members while crossing a frozen field blindfolded and carrying a backpack filled with sand. 

Prosecutors praised the verdict against Pi Delta Psi, which the jury reached on Nov. 21, as holding the fraternity responsible for the “senseless and completely avoidable death of a strong, smart, promising college freshman.” The fraternity, which has a sentencing scheduled next month, faces penalties of fines of as much as $25,000 for each charge and could be restricted from operating in Pennsylvania.


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. 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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