The fraternity hazing ritual that claimed the life of a 19-year-old pledge from Queens last week was banned before the tragic death, according to the brotherhood’s national headquarters.
Chun “Michael” Deng, a Baruch College freshman, died Dec. 9 from head injuries during an unsanctioned Pi Delta Psi event in Pennsylvania, according to authorities and the fraternity’s National Executive President Andy Meng.
Deng, of Oakland Gardens, was one of four pledges who went away to the Poconos last weekend with more than 30 fraternity members, the Monroe County district attorney said.
The blindfolded pledges were reportedly forced to wear weighted bags and navigate a path through a yard, while being repeatedly knocked to the ground.
“I just got to know him,” said Julio Hewu, a Pi Delta Psi fraternity brother at Baruch. “He was good guy.”
Deng died from blunt-force head trauma, the Luzerne County Coroner Office’s said, after he was put on life support at Wilkes-Barre Hospital.
The national Pi Delta Psi organization has since severed ties with the Baruch colony and suspended its national new member outreach, according to a statement.
“Michael will be greatly missed,” said Meng, who is from Queens. “We continue to cooperate with the proper entities and ask all individual members involved to come forward in aiding the investigation.”
Various versions of the ritual are still being carried out, even though it has been banned for at least 10 years due to its dangerous nature, sources in different chapters of the fraternity told The Courier.
“The way it was originally performed and how I experienced it, I’m not surprised that it killed somebody,” said a Pi Delta Psi alumnus, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I can’t say for sure how it was performed in this deadly incident, but the results are tragic and I pray for Deng’s family.”
“I also pray for the brothers involved in the incident,” the source said, “as I’m sure their intentions were good and they are going through the most terrifying moments of their life to have to live with this.”
Another former fraternity brother said the specific ritual has caused broken legs and concussions.
“It’s really sad, but I’m not shocked,” he said. “It was only a matter of time before this happened.”
Baruch College said in a statement it had no knowledge of the event. The fraternity was not approved to rush a pledge class.
“Michael’s death is a deeply painful reminder that no individual should ever be put into a position where his or her personal safety is in jeopardy,” the college said.
Pi Delta Psi, a fast growing Asian-interest society, has 20 chapters in the country and four colonies, including Baruch, according to its website.
An investigation into Deng’s death is ongoing, the Monroe County Police Department said. The district attorney expects to file charges, according to the Associated Press.