Crime

Underage drinking, injuries and assaults: Fresno State fraternity suspended

The Fresno State gateway sign is seen on the corner of the main campus at Cedar and shaw avenues.
The Fresno State gateway sign is seen on the corner of the main campus at Cedar and shaw avenues. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

The Sigma Chi fraternity at Fresno State has been suspended through the fall semester in connection with instances of underage alcohol consumption, physical assaults and noise violations at a May event, the university announced Friday.

A fraternity member suffered unspecified injuries at the event and information has been forwarded to the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, according to university spokeswoman Lisa Boyles

Held May 5, it is known on campus as Drinko de Mayo. “That is my understanding (from) the reports that I saw from university police and what some of the Sigma Chi members indicated when I had the appeal hearing with them,” said Frank Lamas, the university’s vice president for student affairs.

The university and its athletics department have also taken unspecified actions against unnamed student-athletes involved in the event, according to Boyles, who cited privacy laws and university policy for not being more specific about the players or their alleged conduct.

Fresno State, however, has in the past identified student-athletes who have been suspended from competition or dismissed from teams for violations of team rules or athletic department policies.

Boyle added that the university was unable to substantiate findings against any single individual due to “the lack of sufficient reliable evidence,” but “the university remains willing to reopen its investigation should new reliable evidence emerge.”

Sigma Chi was immediately placed on suspension in May when the university received the misconduct reports, Boyles said.

Hazing is any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.

Campus police were called to the fraternity house on Bulldog Lane three times on May 5, according to department logs: at 8:06 p.m. for a battery on a person; at 9:05 p.m. for infliction of corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant; and at 11:32 p.m. for a felony battery with serious bodily injury.

Sigma Chi must complete a risk management program and other unspecified conditions to regain recognition and most privileges by Feb. 3, 2020. However, the fraternity will not regain the right to serve alcohol to students of legal age until May 25, 2020. The fraternity will be allowed two chapter meetings a month to discuss risk management programs, business and philanthropy.

“It will be monitored by the fraternity themselves, their alums, university police,” Lamas said. “To be totally honest, some of this has to do, really, with the way we find out if situations are happening or not happening.

“If there’s information that comes to our attention that they have alcohol in the house or they’ve had parties with alcohol or different incidents of some kind with noise or other things, university police would respond.”

Boyles said the university review included “numerous steps to assess fully what occurred and to allow for appropriate due process,” and that the university’s police department submitted its report to the Dean of Students Office and then to the district attorney’s office. Subsequently, the Dean of Students Office directed its own review. Lamas heard the fraternity’s appeal.

Five students, Lamas said, were involved in the student conduct process.

Boyles said that the university is willing to reopen its investigation should new reliable evidence emerge. Anonymous tips may be submitted to the Fresno State Police Department at fresnostate.edu/adminserv/police/service/tipnow.html or by phone at 559-278-8400.

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