Cal Poly Pomona Wraps Up Investigation of Fraternity Hazing

Cal Poly Pomona has completed its investigation of Sigma Phi Epsilon, the fraternity accused of a hazing incident last March in which a new member suffered serious burns at a ceremony in the high desert.

Of the 74 members the university scrutinized, nine were suspended from attending classes, 45 were placed on probation, and 20 who were not active members saw their cases dismissed. Those who were disciplined accepted the penalties without a formal university hearing. An investigation was conducted by the University Police Department. * (Updated Sept. 24) The jurisdiction of the criminal case lies with the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office. The case was also presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, which determined it did not fall under their jurisdiction. *

The fraternity's national headquarters in Richmond, Va., independently investigated the allegations and has suspended the Cal Poly Pomona chapter for four years. The university's investigation resulted in a similar sanction. During the next four years, the fraternity is prohibited from engaging in any activity on campus. After the suspension is lifted, the chapter may seek to re-colonize.

Students who receive disciplinary suspensions are prohibited from attending the university, as well as all other California State University campuses, until the sanction has been completed.

Those who were placed on probation may attend classes and participate in campus life, but they must not violate any other university policies lest they face additional disciplinary sanctions, up to and including suspension and expulsion.

The alleged hazing incident came to light in late May when university officials learned that 14 students had been blindfolded and driven to an undisclosed location in the high desert on March 6 for a fraternity ceremony. As their blindfolds were removed, gasoline was doused on a large bonfire for dramatic effect. Some gasoline splashed onto one of the students, who suffered second-degree burns to his arms, legs and chest. That injured student subsequently left Cal Poly Pomona, but the university continues to assist him with his educational plans.

Doug Freer, vice president of student affairs, said the university takes a firm stand against hazing.

“Simply put, we have a zero-tolerance policy. Those who violate the policy will be held accountable.”

With that said, Freer pointed out that the Greek system is a positive influence on campus, both for its student activities and its charitable endeavors.

“The Sigma Phi Epsilon case is an aberration and not reflective of my experience working for many years with our Greek community,” he said. “The Greek Council raised more than $30,000 for nonprofit organizations last year, and fraternity and sorority members performed more than 58,000 hours of volunteer work. Some of our finest students are a part of the Greek system.”