A Northern Illinois University student from Western Springs is among 22 fraternity members who have been charged with hazing crimes after a freshman pledge died due to excessive drinking last month, the DeKalb Police Department said in a release.
Michael J. Phillip Jr., 21, is one of 17 members facing a misdemeanor hazing charge in the death. Five other members are facing felony charges.
See also: NIU Freshman From Palatine Found Dead
NIU freshman David Bogenberger was found unresponsive on the morning of Nov. 2 at the Pike fraternity house, 1020 W. Hillcrest in DeKalb. Bogenberger had a blood-alcohol content of .351 at the time of his death; "a highly-elevated blood alcohol content about five times the legal limit," according to the DeKalb County Coroner’s office.
Police said Bogenberger, 19, had been taking part in an unsanctioned Pi Kappa Alpha event for the fraternity's 19 pledges on the evening of Nov. 1.
Fraternity leaders did not officially register the event, known as "Parent's Night," with the national chapter or NIU, according to DeKalb police. The event involves the assignment of “Greek dads and moms” to student pledges.
According to police, "Greek dads" are upperclassmen in the fraternity that serve as mentors to the pledges, while "Greek moms" are members of associated sororities. On Nov. 1, pledges went from room to room in the fraternity house while being asked a series of questions. Pledges were then provided cups of vodka and other liquor to drink, the release said.
"This resulted in the pledges drinking a large quantity of alcohol in about a two-hour time period," police said in a release.
A number of other fraternity pledges reported getting sick due to excessive drinking that night, police said.
Fraternity president Alexander M. Jandik, 21, of Naperville; event planner Steven A. Libert, 20, of Naperville; vice president James P. Harvey, 21, of DeKalb; secretary Patrick W. Merrill, 19, of DeKalb and pledge advisor Omar Salameh, 21, of DeKalb all face Class 4 felony hazing charges, according to DeKalb police.
Arrest warrants for 17 other fraternity members, including Phillip, Jr., were issued for misdemeanor hazing, police said.
"Northern Illinois University has clear and distinct policies regarding fraternity and sorority social events," according to NIU. "Violations of NIU’s policies result in university sanctions ranging from a reprimand to expulsion for students who are found to have violated NIU’s Code of Community & Student Standards & Conduct."
Attorney Peter R. Coladarci, who represents the Bogenberger family, said the issue of alcohol-related deaths in colleges across the country needs to be addressed.
“According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, some 1,800 college students, ages 18 to 24, die annually from alcohol-related unintentional injuries," Coladarci said in a statement. "This is a national health epidemic, which must be addressed.”
David's parents, Gary and Ruth, as well as his siblings also issued a statement regarding his death.
“We are trying to understand the reality of our David’s death. It is almost impossible for us to accept that David is gone at the age of 19; that our future does not include his excitement at learning and growing; becoming a man; marrying and having children; that these events will never happen."
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