Reporting Nick Janes
CHICO (CBS13) – The alcohol-related death of a Chico State University student sparked an unprecedented move – the suspension of all fraternities and sororities on campus.
The decision announced Thursday comes after a series of problems with underage drinking, hazing, and even sex crimes.
Chico State President Paul Zingg says it’s time to push the reset button when it comes to the Greek system. But even in the wake of a deadly alcohol overdose, CBS13 couldn’t find a single student who agrees with his decision.
“We need to send a message about collective responsibility,” said Zingg.
He’s sending a strong message with more than tough talk. The Chico State president is shutting down the entire Greek system, and his action, unpopular with students, is effective immediately.
“It doesn’t show the good stuff we do,” student Jessica Roblas said. “It only sheds light on this one horrific incident.”
The fraternity and sorority suspension comes in the wake of the apparent alcohol overdose of 21-year-old Mason Sumnicht.
The university says he tried taking 21 shots to celebrate his 21st birthday. Sumnicht suffered irreversible brain damage and died Thursday afternoon after being taken off life support earlier this week.
“Mason’s loss has enabled me to provide a wakeup call for everyone,” said Zingg.
He says the death is the latest in a long list of troubling incidents in Chico State’s Greek community, from alcohol-related problems to hazing and sexual assaults.
All Greek activities, from dances to intramural sports, are done for now. Students can stay in their houses but have to cover up or take down their letters.
“Shutting down the Greek system is shutting down philanthropic activities,” student Remy Newman said.
Eight years ago after a fraternity hazing death, the president gave a stern warning to the Greek community.
“I told them then, the next time this happened there would not be a second chance,” said Zingg.
Now, he’s following through with a move that students call unfair.
“Why punish everybody? He wasn’t part of, say, this sorority; he wasn’t part of Pike, or Theta Ki,” student Sean Brummer said.
Fraternities and sororities can reapply for reinstatement starting in spring, but that’s not a sure thing. They’ll have to meet specific criteria, yet to be determined.
The university says it’s also launching multiple investigations into the recent incidents involving the Greek community.