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Newsletter > November 2018 > "International Fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha Faces Lawsuit Against University of Houston Student"
International Fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha Faces Lawsuit Against University of Houston Student
Tim Lynch, Manley Burke
A lawsuit has been filed against the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity, Inc. for events surrounding its Epsilon Eta Chapter at the University of Houston. On September 18, 2018, Jared Anthony Munoz brought claims of civil conspiracy against the fraternity and claims of hazing and personal injury against its members for the way he was treated while undergoing the pledge process. The hazing allegations are truly disturbing.
Munoz was 20-years-old when he pledged Pi Kappa Alpha (“PIKE”) in November 2016. He alleges that during the pledge process, he was forced to take part in a three-day ritual called “Ingress.” On the first day of Ingress, PIKE pledges were taken to an abandoned and dilapidated house not far from the University. Inside this house were floors coverted in vomit, spit, and feces. Munoz and other pledges were forced to roll around in the human waste as part of the Ingress ritual. Throughout the next three days, the pledges were deprived of food, drink and sleep. They were forced to do two-hour intervals of calisthenics to the point of exhaustion. They were made to parade around and chant “ingress is fun, haze us.”
At one point, an active fraternity member asked if the pledges were hungry and told them they would be fed “cookies.” The pledges were then forced to line up in file to eat the “cookies”, cans of beer heated up on a stove to pressurize them to explode when opened. Each pledge was forced to drink at least two of these heated beers. Munoz recounted that the beer cans were so hot that the pledges had to use their shirt sleeves as heat insulators to hold the cans. Their mouths were scalded.
Next, the pledges were forced to play the “glow stick game” where they were tackled in the dark by active members of the fraternity. Munoz received a surprise tackle during the glow stick game which lacerated his spleen. Munoz did not realize he was bleeding internally. He complained to fraternity actives about his pain, but was ignored and forced to continue participating in Ingress. When Ingress finally ended, Munoz landed in the hospital and remained in the intensive care unit for five days.
Although Munoz’s physical victimization stopped, the active members of Pi Kappa Alpha continued to harass him in other ways. After Munoz reporting the incident to University police, he became a target of retaliation by the fraternity. The fraternity pretended to be Munoz and responded to Craigslist personal ads soliciting homosexuals, who then contacted him with sexually explicit responses. The fraternity falsely stated on the global chat thread “GroupMe” that Munoz was a dishonorably discharged military veteran, invoking emotions that Munoz was a traitor. A third instance included a Snapchat video of a fraternity member setting fire to Munoz’s hat with the caption: “Sacrifices must be made.” One fraternity member even published a comment on Munoz’s Venmo account that read: “How’s the spleen?”
In his 32-page complaint, Munoz details a history of news headlines describing incidents of various PIKE chapters. Starting at 1986, the chronology depicts a cornucopia of alcohol-abuse, drug-abuse, hazing, hospitalizations, rapes, assaults, and even deaths. Munoz dismisses the traditional notion that the few do not represent the majority, calling this an “arrogant posture given the fraternity’s history”, a history Munoz claims is marred in the conspiracy of promising brotherhood and a higher social status to those who pay to belong to the fraternity. He alleges that Pi Kappa Alpha gave false, misleading, and deceptive realities about what the fraternity offered him. Munoz states that on a corporate level:
[Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity] preys on adolescence and it quietly lures youth into danger with the promise that as alumni they will be part of an elite society. This promise of grandeur has been successful on susceptible minds second only to the threat of blackmail that follows after fraternity pledges commit shameful acts during ingress.
PIKE has approximately 16,000 undergraduate members and over 290,000 life-time members. Munoz’s complaint alleges that each pledge must pay the fraternity $750.00 in initial dues and $600.00 per semester thereafter. That amounts to an estimated annual income of $19.2 million for the fraternity – including $18,750.00 from the 3-day ingress event alone. Munoz describes the services sold by Pi Kappa Alpha to be “akin to a social dating service,” offering private club membership and new lasting friendships that will lead to future preferential treatment in life. Munoz further critiques PIKE’s status as a non-profit organization and argues that PIKE:
compels its members to pay money to the fraternity as a condition of acceptance within the fraternity. These membership dues are not considered charitable donations. Pi Kappa Alpha also compels its pledges to acquire girls, alcohol, drugs, and stolen property for the self-gratification of the fraternity.
Munoz claims he fell prey to Pi Kappa Alpha’s misleading promises of reaching a better social status in exchange for buying into the fraternity’s membership. He bought-in hoping to reap the touted benefits from the private group but was instead victimized by the corrupt culture of Pi Kappa Alpha.
The International Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity has already suspended its Epsilon Eta Chapter, as has the University in light of this incident. On September 20, 2018 the International Fraternity posted a response to the Munoz’s complaint on their webpage sympathizing with Munoz and stating that PIKE
does not tolerate hazing, maltreatment of members, or any activities that do not treat individuals with dignity and respect. . . . [Pi Kappa Alpha] is supportive of any action which holds the responsible individuals accountable for the reprehensible and illegal acts alleged.
The International Fraternity continued to respond to Munoz’s complaint saying it contains “numerous misrepresentations and factual inaccuracies regarding PIKE’s organizational status, financial models, and relationship with the Epsilon Eta Chapter.”
The Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity, Inc. was previously indicted for organizational hazing by the 183rd Grand Jury for Harris County Texas on December 14, 2017. Both the criminal matter and this civil litigation are a developing matter. Fraternal Law will continue to monitor this case and the particularly interesting claims of the fraternity’s conspiracy and deceptive trade practices.
- 1. Nick Natario, Former UH student suing frat says he nearly died from hazing, ABC13 (Sept. 19, 2018), https://abc13.com/society/former-uh-student-suing-frat-says-he-nearly-died-from-hazing/4289287/.
- See Jared Anthony Munoz v. The Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity, Inc., et al., Case No. 2018-65584, Dist. Ct. of Harris County, TX.
- Munoz, Complaint, pg. 26.
- Fraternity Responds to Civil Suit In Houston, PIKES.org (Sept. 20, 2018) https://www.pikes.org/about-pike/news-and-media/recent-news/fraternity-responds-to-civil-ligitation-in-houston
- Organization hazing is a violation of the Texas Education Code, § 37.153.