Michigan State University student’s death leads to hazing charges

Student's death leads to hazing charges
Published: Jun. 10, 2022 at 6:55 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - There’s been at least one university hazing death every year since 1969. When police responded to a call for medical assistance at the Pi Alpha Phi Fraternity at Michigan State last November, it caused Greek chapters to address hazing more aggressively.

Background: 3 charged in hazing death of Michigan State University student

East Lansing Police said Phat Nguyen died from drinking too much alcohol. This isn’t the first time a college student has died from hazing -- but this incident has some Greek chapters taking a closer look at themselves.

“The first step really is just making sure it doesn’t happen to begin with. That’s really the only way you can really prevent it because there’s not really a need for it and there,” said Jacob Stinson, President of Tau Kappa Epsilon. “There really just isn’t much purpose,”

Stinson said his fraternity doesn’t haze their pledges because it’s just not worth it, in his opinion.

“The reward of getting an expanded friend group and things like that for however long you’re in college isn’t worth having to do all sorts of this extra stuff and, in some cases, die for it,” said Stinson.

Hazing has been around for hundreds of years. It’s been used by fraternities and sororities, sports teams, military units, even street gangs. However, public opinion has since turned against it in recent years and it’s also a violation of the Student Code of Conduct at MSU, and many other schools.

“It really just falls on the chapters at this point. There’s a lot of personal accountability that needs to be taken and I think we do a good job of that by just being transparent with people,” said Stinson.

He said the university did their part -- the Pi Alpha Phi chapter was disbanded and privileges were revoked. And he said as Tau Kappa Epsilon President, he’ll be making sure no one in his fraternity is being secretly hazed.

“Aside from just not doing it, the main thing is, I think really kind of repeatedly taking the temperature I guess with our pledge classes, really just checking in making sure everything’s all good with them and that they’re all having fun,” said Stinson.

Hazing is illegal in Michigan under Garret’s Law. Michigan State University officials said they have a strict zero-tolerance policy when it comes to hazing. Three students from MSU have been charged with one count of hazing-death and three counts of hazing-injury following the death of Phat Nguyen. They’ll be back in court for a preliminary examination on June 23, 2022 and could get 15 years in prison, if convicted.

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