COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s (SAE) Texas A&M chapter was notified by the university this week that they will be suspended for the next two years.
This regards a $1 million dollar lawsuit filed by two former pledges of the chapter, who allege that they were chemically burned during a recent hazing incident.
SC-200 is a cleaning substance made by Spartan Chemical.
According to the chemical description through Spartan's website, SC-200 causes chemical burns and blisters to the skin. Those who use the substance are instructed to throw away their shoes if the shoes come in contact with SC-200, wash their clothes, shower for 15 minutes, and seek attention from poison control or a doctor.
On March 29 of this year, this chemical is what former Texas A&M SAE pledges Patrick Close and Jose Figueroa claim was poured over their bodies by fraternity members, after being transported to a barn and coated in spit, raw eggs and paint.
"They had to be evacuated to Houston because their burns were so bad," said Jose Calderon of VB Attorneys, who is representing the victims in court. "... The burns are over a significant portion of their bodies. Fortunately, they are not on their face(s) or their hands, but they are over a significant portion of their torso(s), and around their hip areas.”
Calderon said the students had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. The two men missed school due to the needed recovery time as well, and their academics and mental state have suffered.
The SAE headquarters in Illinois issued this statement on behalf of the larger organization, in regards to the alleged hazing incident:
“Although Sigma Alpha Epsilon does not comment on matters related to litigation, we want to be clear that hazing in any form will not be tolerated, and members who engage in these types of activities will be held accountable to the fullest extent. Hazing has absolutely no place in Sigma Alpha Epsilon.”
The civil lawsuit, filed on Oct. 19 in Harris County, notes that the plaintiffs are seeking damages against eight specific fraternity members who allegedly participated, in addition to the SAE organization as a whole.
Calderon pointed out that Texas A&M was informed of the incident several months ago, well before the lawsuit was filed on Oct. 19.
“I think it’s a weird coincidence that the week this hits the media is when A&M makes the announcement [of the chapter suspension]," he commented. "Either way, we’re glad they’re doing something about it. We’ve reached out to the university. They have yet to supply us with any of their investigative reports.”
A Texas A&M spokesperson did state in an email to KRHD that SAE had lost an appeal the chapter had made; the final suspension announcement came this week, approximately Wednesday evening. Texas A&M did provide KRHD with an accompanying statement:
"Texas A&M will not tolerate actions or behavior that degrades, intimidates, humiliates or endangers students. We will continue our hazing prevention education programs, which includes outlining what constitutes hazing and the consequences for such poor choices. Hazing is a violation of Texas A&M’s student code of conduct, student organization policies and Texas state law."
KRHD reached out to the Texas A&M SAE chapter president, whose number was listed on the chapter's website, but have yet to receive a response.
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