Hazing News

Sig Ep bonfire called hazing

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During a fraternity bonfire ceremony in the high desert, a member splashed gas onto the fire for “dramatic effect,” injuring the new member, said university spokeswoman Esther Chou. The student, who has not been identified, asked for medical treatment but did not receive it until hours later, she said.

Though the injury was not intentional, the university investigated it as a hazing because the new members were blindfolded, not told where they were going and made to stand near the bonfire, Chou said.

“I think they were put in a situation where they did not have much control over it,” she said.

Additionally, the delayed medical attention for the student was a major concern, she said.

Cal Poly investigated 74 fraternity members, including the new members, resulting in suspensions of up to two semesters and probation of up to two years. The university referred the case to the Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County district attorney’s offices for possible charges. Los Angeles County does not plan to bring charges, and the university is waiting to hear from San Bernardino County officials, Chou said.

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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