“Too many families have been devastated as a result of fraternity hazing at least once.”
This is part of the statement released by the grieving parents of Chun Hsien Deng, the 19-year-old Baruch student, who died in 2013 after being hazed by the members of the Pi Delta Psi fraternity. Five members involved are now being charged with third degree murder.
While pledging the fraternity during a retreat to the Poconos, Deng, better known as Michael, participated in a ritual known as the Glass Ceiling. He was forced to walk blindfolded across a frozen yard while carrying a sand-filled backpack, as the frat members tackled him with a move called spearing. It is a tactic used in the sport Rugby, in which your opponent lifts you in the air and drops you to the ground so that you either fall on your head, neck, or shoulders.
Despite complaining about headaches, Deng continued with the ritual until the inevitable came to pass. He was knocked unconscious shortly after and according to the medical examiner the fraternity members involved did not seek immediate medical attention. Instead, they prolonged taking Deng to the hospital about one to two hours, which may have significantly contributed to his passing. Had he been rushed to aid, Michael Deng may be alive today.
37 students in total are facing criminal charges for the involvement in this horrific event, but five identified as Charles Lai, Kenny Kwan, Raymond Lam, Daniel Li, and Sheldon Wong could be facing up to 20 years in prison if convicted of third degree murder. Also known as involuntary manslaughter, the allegation charges murder with no prior intent to kill. The suspects either could not be reached for questioning or denied to comment on the charges.
However, Danny Chen’s lawyer commented that the prosecutors in the case were over-reaching with the charges: “I believe a number of the defendants would be acquitted by a jury. The tragic death of Michael should not be used to ruin the life of so many young Asian American college students, the bulk of them fully cooperated with the DA and testified before the grand jury.”
As for the family of Deng, they are seeking serious changes to the fraternity process including and end to the pledging ritual as hazing is too often the cause for embarrassment, injuries, and in this tragic case, death. Baruch has permanently banned the fraternity from the school and has temporarily suspended all pledging activities on campus for three years. This is what needs to be done in order for “other parents [to] be spared the loss of a precious child.” Hopefully, the appropriate changes will be implemented to prevent another tragedy of this kind and justice is served.