LOS ANGELES – Hazing was involved in the death of a California State University, Northridge, student who collapsed during an 18-mile fraternity pledge hike, the school's president announced Friday.
Pi Kappa Phi, the fraternity that held the hike, has agreed to close its chapter, a criminal investigation is underway, and after that will come school reviews that could result in some students being disciplined or possibly expelled, CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison said.
Armando Villa, 19, who had just completed his freshman year, died last month after he passed out during a hike with other Pi Kappa Phi pledges in the Angeles National Forest.
"They had water — and not enough water," Harrison said. "The pledges wore really cheap, flimsy shoes. Some of them, including Armando's, were not the right size. And then you go on an 18-mile hike."
An investigation commissioned by the university determined that fraternity members engaged in hazing in violation of school ethics and student conduct codes, the president said.
"Hazing is stupid, senseless, dangerous and against the law in California," Harrison said in a statement. "It is a vestige of a toxic way of thinking in which it was somehow OK to degrade, humiliate and potentially harm others."
Villa's parents issued a statement saying they're pleased the fraternity chapter is closing.
"Hazing is an awful practice. It cost our son his life. And it ought to be banned across the country," said Betty and Joseph Serrato, Villa's mother and stepfather. "No one else should suffer because of this barbaric ritual that endangers and ridicules others just for the enjoyment of immature young men."