NIU hazing death: 22 Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity members charged after freshman dies
December 18, 2012 (NAPERVILLE, Ill.) (WLS) -- More than 20 fraternity members at Northern Illinois University are facing hazing charges after the death of a freshman last month.
Close to two dozen fraternity members face criminal charges. Just a few weeks after freshman David Bogenberger joined the Pi Kappa Alpha house, he died following a frat ritual that involved consuming large amounts of alcohol.
Several fraternities on a national level say college students should be held accountable for these incidents.
Several NIU Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity members have turned themselves into police after they were charged with hazing crimes following David Bogenberger's death last month.
In all, 22 face charges, five with felonies, including the house president.
"I think that the criminal charges send an important message and lesson to everybody," said Sigma Alpha Epsilon National spokesperson Brandon Weghorst.
Weghorst says accountability and education are keys in curbing fraternity-hazing-related incidents.
Weghorst represents the national office for Sigma Alpha Epsilon, known as SAE. In its past, several SAE chapters have been kicked off college campuses by its national office for hazing incidents, including deaths.
"The national organizations can say here are the guidelines, but the reality is you can't be there with everybody on campus and be in charge of everybody, nor can parents," Weghorst said.
While Weghorst says the alcohol-related hazing incidents make news, the majority of students in Greek life are involved in positive activities, such as volunteer work.
But that is hard for Bogenberger's parents to understand. The 19-year-old died after a frat ritual that included chugging large amounts of vodka and other alcohol.
Tests showed his blood-alcohol level was more than five times the legal limit for driving.
The Bogenbergers say they are not looking for revenge, just significant change following their son's death.
"They are relieved. They acknowledge of course the consequences on each of these defendants are very serious, very life changing," said Bogenberger family attorney Peter Coladarci. "A lot of lives changed on November 1."
The Pi Kappa Alpha house, known as the Pike House, has been shut down on the NIU campus.
Pi Kappa Alpha's international office is based in Memphis. A statement was released Tuesday, stating, the fraternity's ritual and initiation ceremonies do not -- nor have they ever -- involved alcohol or hazing.
"The International Fraternity's thoughts and prayers remain with the family, friends, and all of those affected by this horrible tragedy. This is yet one more unfortunate example of an ill conceived and unauthorized activity involving alcohol and potentially hazing, which could have been avoided. The International Fraternity remains steadfast in its commitment to working with Universities, its members, and other stakeholders in combating these issues affecting our young people today," President Justin Buck said in the statement.
The five students facing felony charges could get one to three years in prison, if convicted.
illinois news, sarah schulte
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