University, Kappa Delta Rho face lawsuit for hazing

Sarah Baldwin, Editor-in-Chief

On Sept. 22, John Jean ’23 filed a lawsuit against the National Fraternity of Kappa Delta Rho (KDR), the University’s KDR Iota chapter and the University after a recent hazing incident that led to Jean’s hospitalization. KDR Chapter President William Babcock ’21, pledge master Dillon Duttera ’21 and fellow pledge Nicholas Zanghetti ’23 are also listed as defendants in the suit. The charges brought by Jean’s lawyer, Aaron Freiwald, include hazing, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.

During KDR’s Sept. 10-11 initiation, Jean, who was a fraternity pledge at the time, alleges that he and the other pledges were forced to consume excessive amounts of alcohol under the watch of Duttera and Babcock. After attempting to leave, Jean alleges that he was then punched by Zanghetti before falling to the ground and becoming unconscious. A University Public Safety Officer witnessed the assault and called 911.

The lawsuit states that Jean was transported to Evangelical Community Hospital and treated for alcohol poisoning and a head concussion; Jean also had multiple bruises on his body and cigarette burns on his feet.

The document goes on to allege that multiple KDR members were involved in covering up the incident, citing group messages where members supposedly planned on “getting their story straight.” In addition, the University is accused of concealing the incident to the public; according to the suit, the Public Safety Officer who witnessed Jean’s assault did not make a report to the Buffalo Valley Police Department, while the University made “sure there was no adverse action taken against the students involved in the hazing and against the fraternity itself.”

“Bucknell University does not comment on matters in litigation,” Director of Media Relations Mike Ferlazzo said when reached for comment. “All Kappa Delta Rho chapter operations and activities are suspended pending a completed investigation.”

This particular incident is not the first time the Iota chapter has suffered disciplinary consequences as a result of its hazing practices. In February of 2009, the National Fraternity of KDR temporarily revoked the chapter’s official designation after a hazing incident; the chapter was subsequently reinstated in September of 2012.

Since this most recent incident, a letter asking for the abolition of Greek life on the University’s campus has widely circulated among alumni – as of Oct. 8, it has amassed over 300 signatures. The letter recalls earlier unsuccessful attempts to disband Greek life, accusing the University of fearing “financial repercussions from students, parents, and alumni donors who glorify fraternity life.” It goes on to state, “It’s time to get rid of this exclusionary system that attracts and benefits a predominantly white, wealthy portion of our students.” The University has provided no public statement at this time on the alumni petition.

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