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Student burned in alleged Cal Poly hazing

June 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A California State Polytechnic University-Pomona fraternity has been suspended, and nine members are under investigation after a student was badly burned in an alleged hazing incident.A dispute at Cal Poly Pomona pits members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity against the administration. Campus police say they have evidence of a hazing event witnessed by as many as 150 students and alumni. It left one student with 2nd-degree burns.

"The scarring and burns are relatively permanent for this student," said Doug Freer, vice president of student affairs, Cal Poly Pomona.

A fraternity spokesman reached by phone says it was not hazing, it was an accident.

"We do know that a professional medical technician was on the scene as a member and applied first aid immediately to the member who was injured in the accident," said Renato Villacorte, alumni board president, Sigma Phi Epsilon Cal Mu.

"A significant concern to us is that the student appears to have asked on several occasions for medical attention and was not provided that adequately in a timely manner," said Freer.

Who provided the underage student with alcohol?

The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity is one of the largest on campus and is involved in many charitable activities. Their charter is at stake.

The incident happened miles away at an undisclosed location in the desert. Fourteen students were blindfolded, driven to a bonfire, then led closer to the flames. Gasoline was tossed in to add to the dramatic effect. But it splashed on one student.

"It was not meant to get close to them so that they felt like they were in danger," said Villacorte. "It was simply someone pouring gas on the fire to make a flash."

Seventy students have been handed disciplinary citations.

The student who was burned has left school for this term and is deciding whether to come back.

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