- THE SAGA CONTINUES...
- ALCOHOL DEATH AT CLARKSON
- DRUG RAID RESULTS IN SEIZURE OF FRATERNITY HOUSE
- JUST WHAT ARE FRATERNAL EDUCATIONAL AND CHARITABLE PURPOSES ANYWAY?
- ALCOHOL-FREE FRATERNITY HOUSES
Newsletter > March 1997 > "ALCOHOL DEATH AT CLARKSON"
ALCOHOL DEATH AT CLARKSON
Gary E. Powell
On Saturday night, February 8, the members of the Theta Chi Chapter at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, invited 21 men who were interested in joining the fraternity to their off-campus chapter house. All of the invited men were under the age of 21. Police reports indicate that the 21 guests were given liquor in bottles, along with beer. According to the local police chief, the members’ objective was to get the pledges “to throw up and to see who they could make throw up first.” At some point in the late evening or early morning hours, 17 year-old Binaya Oja, a freshman at Clarkson, was put to bed on a couch in a third floor room of the chapter house. Oja was found unconscious the next morning by fraternity members who tried unsuccessfully to revive him. He was later declared dead at a local hospital.
[The charges included hazing and reckless endangerment.]
On February 13th, following a police investigation into the matter, 12 individuals, including all nine of the undergraduate chapter members and one young alumnus, were charged individually with 43 misdemeanors under New York State law. The charges included hazing and reckless endangerment. If convicted, each individual could be sentenced to a maximum of two years in jail.
The Grand Chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity revoked the charter of the Clarkson chapter, effective on February 15th. All chapter members had to move out of the house by March 1st, most back into on-campus housing facilities. On February 19th, the large bright red Theta Chi letters and the name on the front of the chapter house were painted over. It is likely that the house will be sold.
[According to the local police chief, the members’ objective was to get the pledges “to throw up and to see who they could make throw up first.”]
In less than one month’s time, reckless conduct on the part of chapter members and others resulted in the loss of one young man’s life, the issuance of criminal charges against all of the chapter members and the closing of a chapter that was colonized nearly 45 years ago.