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Hazing Is Suspected in Injuries to 2 UCLA Students

School: One freshman is in critical condition. Campus police are investigating possible fraternity incident.

April 03, 1998| From a Times Staff Writer

UCLA campus police are investigating a possible fraternity hazing incident that resulted in the hospitalization of two students, including an 18-year-old freshman who remained in critical condition Thursday, school officials said.

The freshman, who is from San Jose, suffered possible kidney failure and was being treated at UCLA Medical Center's intensive care unit, said Robert Naples, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life.

The other student, a 19-year-old sophomore from Orange County, was hospitalized for four days and released Thursday. Neither the names of the students nor their exact injuries were disclosed.

The students were hospitalized Monday and the admitting physicians suspected that they had suffered "abuse of some sort," Naples said. Doctors, he said, are required to report to police all instances of suspected abuse.

Since both students were "rushing" the same fraternity--Omega Sigma Tau--school officials and campus police suspected that their conditions were connected to a hazing incident, Naples said.

"Our police have talked to some individuals who indicated the students were put through some rigorous physical activities as part of an initiation or hazing process," Naples said. "We take this kind of thing seriously, and there could be some criminal ramification to those responsible."

The investigation has been hampered, Naples said, because few students are on campus as a result of spring break and because the fraternity does not have a residence in Westwood. The fraternity could not be reached for comment.

Omega Sigma Tau, unlike many of the school's high-profile fraternities, does not have a national headquarters and is not part of a national network of fraternities, officials said.

One of the students complained to doctors of sore knees, and both were suffering from dehydration and exhaustion, Naples said.

"The kidney failure might have been from lack of water or maybe from ingesting something, but at this point, we're not sure," Naples said. "There's no reason to believe it was from excessive drinking, but we're not ruling it out."

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