The Baruch College branch of Pi Delta Psi was cut off from the national Pi Delta Psi organization following the death of 19-year-old Chun “Michael” Deng.
The chapter has come under intense scrutiny following Deng’s death on December 9.
Deng was forced to run blindfolded while carrying 20-pound bags of sand and try not to get tackled while making it to a certain member of the fraternity, authorities said. He ended up with critical head injuries from blunt force trauma during the initiation ritual. Deng was one of four pledges at the rented weekend retreat in the Poconos.
Pocono Mountain Regional Police said in an affidavit that they recovered suspected marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms after executing a search warrant at the house, along with a photocopied document related to moral problems with torture.
They also recovered pledge paddles, frat sweatshirts, computers, backpacks and clothing at the home and in the vehicles driven by fraternity members. The cryptic document on torture was not explained further.
The three students who took Deng to the hospital initially told police that the group was wrestling in the snow when Deng fell backwards and hit his head, reported NBC, which turned out to be a lie. The group took him inside by the fire but he didn’t wake up, a part of the story that was mostly true. The members also Googled his symptoms while they waited for him to regain consciousness, and did not call 911.
After Deng didn’t wake up for around an hour, the students took him to the hospital.
The investigation into whether the death was a homicide or accidental is pending.
Deng was shoved during the “glass ceiling” ritual, apparently fell and struck his head, and went unconscious, according to the affidavit. The fraternity brothers interviewed by police said it was dark outside and they didn’t know who may have pushed Deng.
While they were at the hospital, one brother called back to the house to tell the members to dispose of “all fraternity memorabilia and items,” the affidavit said. The Baruch branch also quickly took down its Facebook page.
The fraternity’s national headquarters said after the death that it was an unsanctioned event, and that they were working with authorities.
The fraternity in an update said that it is severing ties with the Baruch branch.
“Baruch Colony has violated the rules and values of our organization, including our strict no-hazing policy,” national executive chairman Andy Meng said in a statement, according to NBC.
Pi Delta Psi describes itself as an Asian American cultural fraternity, which was founded in 1994 at Binghamton University. It has dozens of chapters across the United States, mostly in the northeast.
“We are guided by four pillars: Academic Achievement, Cultural Awareness, Righteousness, and Friendship-Loyalty,” it says. “Today, Pi Delta Psi continues to grow in prestige as more members commit to our guiding principles.”
Monroe County District Attorney David Christine said criminal charges were forthcoming and he would wait until the probe was completed before deciding which charges to file and against whom.
Christina Latouf, a spokeswoman for Baruch College, said the fraternity had been suspended, and the college had not been notified of the initiation activities until they were contacted about Deng.
“Baruch College had no knowledge of this event or that the fraternity was rushing a pledge class,” the school said in a statement. ”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.”
Deng, who was from Queens, attended the elite Bronx High School of Science. A former classmate said he was “well-liked and smart.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.