Ocean submersion and bloody knuckles: Cal Poly fraternity suspended over hazing

Cal Poly’s Highland Drive entrance in San Luis Obispo, California.
Cal Poly’s Highland Drive entrance in San Luis Obispo, California.

Pledges bloodied in forced hazing rituals and unsafe and underage drinking is the picture that emerged this week at a Cal Poly fraternity after the university disaffiliated Lambda Phi Epsilon following an internal investigation.

Cal Poly spokesman Matt Lazier confirmed to The Tribune that the Asian-interest fraternity will be suspended for a minimum of two academic years. Campus newspaper Mustang News first reported the story Friday.

An investigation was launched Sept. 28 after the university received anonymous reports that members of the Lambda Phi Epsilon chapter had taken part in “systematic hazing of new pledges in recent years,” Lazier wrote in an email.

The investigation determined new recruits were forced to take part in unsafe activities, such as knuckle push-ups and late-night ocean submersion, and that a tradition of hazing had been maintained by current and former members of the fraternity for the past several years, according to Lazier.

The investigation, conducted in cooperation with the fraternity’s national headquarters, also determined the local chapter provided alcohol to students, including minors, and forced new recruits to drink large amounts.

“It really sucked in the moment, it was the hardest thing ever … But this is something I think everyone knows about,” an anonymous source who allegedly witnessed the hazing told the Mustang News.

The university has also asked the national fraternity, which claims on its website to be the world’s largest Asian-interest fraternity, withdraw its recognition of the local chapter. It’s unclear whether that has taken place as of Saturday, and the Cal Poly chapter is still listed as active on the national website with a link to a Facebook page.

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Lazier said the national organization supports the university’s findings.

The Cal Poly chapter will be disaffiliated from the university for a minimum of two years or until all current members have graduated or otherwise left Cal Poly, whichever is longer, Lazier said. He said there is no appeals process.

Mustang News also reported that Lambda Phi Epsilon was placed on social probation during the winter 2018 quarter after it was found to have had alcohol at a recruitment event.

This is the latest high-profile instance of discipline taken against a Cal Poly fraternity after Lambda Chi Alpha was suspended for a year in April following outrage and protests over racist photos from one of its parties, which showed one member in blackface and others dressed up as gang members. A blanket suspension was also placed on all Cal Poly fraternities and sororities at the time, which was lifted last month.

Tribune reporter Lucas Clark contributed to this story.

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