Hazing News

SAE Update and Second death at Cal Poly seems to be natural causes at first report

My sincere condolences to the families and friends and classmates of both young men–Hank Nuwer

Cal Poly officials said Wednesday the fraternity that freshman Carson Starkey was pledging when he died was on probation for six months earlier this year because police had to be called to a noisy party.

Starkey, 18, was found unresponsive at 6:24 a.m. Tuesday by students in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity who were living in a private home in San Luis Obispo near the campus, according to police.

The student from Austin, Texas, was taken to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center, where he died. Authorities are investigating what role alcohol might have played in Starkey’s death. An autopsy is scheduled for today.

* See a video of messages left on Carson Starkey’s Facebook page

Stephan Lamb, the associate director of Cal Poly’s Student Life and Leadership, said Wednesday that Sigma Alpha Epsilon was put on probation by the university from January through June.

Lamb said the fraternity held a party last year that resulted in a noise violation and police report.

The details of that report led Cal Poly to place the organization on probation, which restricted members to chapter meetings and forbade social gatherings. The group was held to a set of rules, including a strict agreement that no underage possession of alcohol be allowed.

The fraternity’s probation was lifted in the summer after fraternity members met with Cal Poly officials several times and appeared ready to act responsibly.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Reported by: Stacy Daniel

Two days after the death of Cal Poly freshman Carson Starkey, another student is found dead.

The body of 19-year-old Favian Mora was discovered early Thursday morning inside of a dorm room in Poly Canyon Village.

Just as students say goodbye to a fellow Mustang, they learn another student has died.

“It’s sad. It’s a tragedy,” said Cal Poly student Samuel Buechler.

Two deaths in three days: the latest tragedy occurred on the third floor dorm room at Poly Canyon Village. Investigators with the University Police Department said a call from Favian Mora’s roommate alerted them that something was terribly wrong with him.

University Police Chief Bill Watton said, “From all indications, at this point it appears to be a natural condition rather than some other outside thing. No indication at all that alcohol, drugs or any other issues.”

Students are in shock.

Buechler said, “I actually saw the ambulance. I was just walking back to my room and I saw ambulances, police and yeah, I didn’t know what was going on.”

Campus police are left searching for answers.

Chief Watton said, “This just appears to be one of those tragic things that occurs from time to time.”

Mora’s death is the second student death in just three days. On Tuesday, the body of Carson Starkey, an 18-year-old Cal Poly freshman was discovered unresponsive after a party at an off-campus fraternity house. He was later pronounced dead at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo.

Grief counselors have been called in to help the students cope with these two untimely deaths.

Investigators said autopsy results for Mora will be released Friday.

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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