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Nine Cal Poly Pomona students suspended in hazing incident

A new member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity was burned when another member tossed gas on a bonfire in the high desert ceremony. The student went untreated for several hours.

September 29, 2009|Raja Abdulrahim

Nine Cal Poly Pomona students have been suspended after an investigation of a March hazing incident, in which a new fraternity member suffered second-degree burns on a third of his body.

Forty-five more Sigma Phi Epsilon members received probation, a university spokesman said last week.

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 get 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 treatment for the student was a key 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.

The injured student does not want to press charges and has left the university, she said.

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raja.abdulrahim@latimes.com

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