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9 Cal Poly Pomona students suspended for fraternity incident described as hazing [Updated]

September 24, 2009 | 10:22 am

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

Another 45 Sigma Phi Epsilon members received probation, she said.

During a fraternity bonfire ceremony in the high desert, a member splashed gas onto the fire for "dramatic effect," injuring a new member, said university spokeswoman Esther Chou. The student, who has not been identified, asked for medical treatment but did not receive 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 medical attention for the student was a major 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 does not plan to bring charges, and the university is waiting to hear back from San Bernardino County officials, Chou said.

The injured student does not want to press charges and has since left the university, she said. Sigma Phi Epsilon's national chapter has suspended the Cal Poly chapter for four years, Chou said.

[Updated at 11:05 a.m.: A previous version of this post misspelled Chou's name.]

-- Raja Abdulrahim