By ILYA KEGEN
There is a price to pay for being accepted into a group; sometimes it is with one’s life.
This was the case on an early December morning in 2013 at fraternity retreat in the Poconos when Baruch College’s Chun Hsien Deng, better known as Michael Deng, died after going through the hazing ritual for the Pi Delta Psi branch at the school.
The students on Baruch’s campus were saddened and angry about what happened to a fellow student.
“They take things to a different level,” said Keona, 20, an operations management major at Baruch College. “Being Greek myself, it is sad that it is associated with Greek culture.”
Thirty-seven frat members were charged this week in the death of Deng, five of them for third degree murder and the 32 others on counts ranging from assault, hindering apprehension and hazing.
Deng went through a hazing ritual that three other potential pledges went through before him. But sources said that Deng fought back while being blindfolded and weighed down by a 30 pound backpack of sand. Prosecutors say that his resistance got the frat brothers angry, and they went at him harder. One member ran at him from 15 feet away and knocked him down to the ground by driving his shoulder into Deng’s body. Others pushed Deng to the ground and waited for him to get back up, which was difficult due to the weight of the backpack.
Deng complained of his head hurting and eventually was knocked unconscious. The frat brothers carried him into the house and tried to get him to come to. When he didn’t, the brother panicked.
According to the grand jury report, the members called their president at the time, Andy Meng, who told them to hide everything with the frats logo on it to shield the organization. It was an hour after they brought Deng into the house that they finally called an ambulance.
Such details provoked anger on campus. “I hate fraternities and it’s demoralizing to bring another human down to bring the fraternities status up,” said Simha Gulkarov, 18, an accounting and philosophy major.
Todd Greenberg, a lawyer for Meng, the former national fraternity president who was charged with hazing and hindering apprehension, said in a statement to the New York Times that Meng “was not present in Pennsylvania at the time of his death, had no role in his medical treatment and did not commit any wrongdoing.
Meng’s sister, Grace Meng, is a Queens Democratic congresswoman. She has expressed her condolences to Deng’s family and stated support for her brother.
“Striking that these guys worried about compromising themselves and waited an hour to call an ambulance,” said Jaime Zurro, 21, finance major at Baruch College. “I feel that fraternities should be banned in general.”
Baruch College has banned Pi Delta Psi permanently while suspending all pledging for other Greek organizations for three years starting in fall of 2014. Over 70 percent of hazing incidents happened in fraternities or sororities, according to a nationwide study conducted in 2008. Not a year has gone by since 1970 without a hazing related death.
“ I never liked fraternities and it’s a good way to set an example by charging them with murder and it’s a nation problem,” said Marcela Corro, 20, marketing major. “Hopefully other fraternities here and across the country will cut hazing.”