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UC IRVINE FRATERNITY SUSPENDED AMID INVESTIGATION INTO HAZING

By David Salvin January 15th, 2002

The follow article is about a lawsuit Mr. Salvin filed.

UC Irvine Fraternity Suspended Amid Investigation Into Hazing

The Region

School: Beta Theta Pi is sanctioned by its national headquarters after a pledge files suit, saying he suffered a grand mal seizure.

January 15, 2002| JEFF GOTTLIEB | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A UC Irvine fraternity has been suspended by its national headquarters during an investigation of a pledge's claim that he suffered a grand mal seizure and was hospitalized after a weekend of hazing in Big Bear.

UCI, meanwhile, is conducting its own investigation of Beta Theta Pi in connection with a lawsuit filed Nov. 28 by Jeff Warden, who said he was forced to exercise in freezing temperatures and had beer forced down his throat while being subjected to continuous verbal abuse during the initiation in December 2000.

Diane Kim, the campus director of student judicial affairs, said a decision on whether to impose a penalty is expected by the end of the month. Sanctions could include suspending the fraternity for an extended period of time or making it the first Greek organization to be banned from UCI.

Hazing is a misdemeanor under the state Education Code and is punishable by fines of $50 to $5,000 or not more than a year in the county jail. Kim also will decide whether to refer the matter to police, said Randy Lewis, UCI's associate dean of students.

Beta Theta Pi, which has had a chapter at the school for 26 years, has a reputation for being the top-ranked academically.

"Basically, we're a bunch of smart guys who are good at sports," said Edwin Steen, fraternity president. He declined to comment on the incident, other than to confirm the investigations. The local chapter has not hired an attorney, he said.

Although hazing is specifically prohibited by UCI, "it's hard to enforce," said Paul Suhr, president of UCI's Interfraternity Council.

Warden, 20, is a sophomore film studies major from Colorado Springs, Colo., who wants to be a director. His lawsuit, filed in Orange County Superior Court, seeks unspecified monetary damages for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The suit also names 13 Beta brothers as defendants.

In describing the stay at Big Bear in an interview and in his lawsuit, Warden tells a tale of 18- and 19-year-old pledges pushed so hard that they break down in tears and rebel against the fraternity.

Rush was in its final weekend on Dec. 8, 2000, when Warden and two other pledges drove with about 15 fraternity members and alumni to Big Bear. Warden said he thought they were going snowboarding.

To link to the Actual article written by the L.A. times please click here.


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