In what the University of California is calling “the most severe and comprehensive disciplinary action that UC Berkeley has taken against a fraternity in several years,” the fraternity accused in last spring’s pellet gun hazing attack on a Berkeley street will be disbanded and forced to reorganize.
But criminal charges have yet to be filed against suspects for allegedly shooting an unidentified 19-year-old Pi Kappa Phi pledge last April with an air pellet gun and forcing him to consume alcohol and marijuana.
The Gamma chapter of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, which had been in continuous operation on the Berkeley campus since its founding in 1909, must suspend all operations for one year, and will have all current members placed on inactive alumni status.
When it is allowed to reopen in the fall of 2006, the fraternity is expected to operate under what the university calls “a host of conditions, restrictions, and close oversight by the campus administration and the fraternity’s national headquarters.” The national fraternity will decide if any current chapter members will be allowed to join the reorganized chapter.
The punishment, which is just short of a complete disbanding of the 58-member chapter, was decided in an agreement reached between UC Berkeley officials and the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The fraternity must also pay a $4,000 fine, perform 750 hours of community service, and produce a seminar on the dangers of hazing. Fraternity and sorority hazing is banned by UC Berkeley campus.
Pi Kappa Phi Chief Executive Officer Mark E. Timmes said in a statement that “our investigation indicated a culture of alcohol, drugs, hazing and lack of respect for others which is unacceptable.”
UC Berkeley Dean of Students Karen Kenney added that “the offenses in this case were especially shocking and disturbing. Strong disciplinary action was called for and is appropriate.”
A UC Berkeley press release said that the fraternity punishment “also addresses a March 4 incident in which the chapter held an unauthorized party involving various alcohol use violations, including the serving of alcohol to minors.”
Berkeley Police Public Information Officer Joe Okies said that the April 8 pellet gun incident is “still under investigation” and declined to give a figure as to how many suspects are being investigated.
Bay City News (BCN) reported this week that 15 fraternity members took place in the hazing, with three members shooting him multiple times with what they described as two BB guns. UC Berkeley describes the weapons as pellet guns. BCN said the 15 fraternity member figure came from Okies, but Okies said by telephone that he has never given out an exact number of those allegedly involved in the incident.
This is not the first time that a Pi Kappa Phi chapter has been cited for hazing.
In 2001, three Chico State Pi Kappa Phi members pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor in the alcohol overdose death of Adrian Heideman, and eight fraternity members agreed to pay Heideman’s family $500,000.
A year later, the chapter reached a confidential, undisclosed settlement with the Heideman’s family over a lawsuit in which the Heidemans charged that he had died in a hazing incident. The Chico State chapter later disbanded.›