Northern Illinois University’s Greek organizations call it “Mom’s Night” or “Parent’s Night.” During this traditional rush week event, a “mom,” who is an upperclassman from a sorority, hides in one of the frat’s rooms. According to FOX 32’s report, pledges have to go door to door and try to guess if their assigned parent is in the room. If they are wrong, they drink.
David Bogenberger, 19, drank too much. The autopsy report indicated that his blood alcohol content at the time of his death was over five times the legal limit for driving. He was found dead after choking on his own vomit. The official cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia, which doesn’t even begin to describe how tragically preventable his death was.
Today, arrest warrants were issued for twenty-two members of the Pi Kappa Alpha, also known as Pike, which was the fraternity responsible for the rush event that lead to Bogenberger’s death. The twenty-two students will serve as scapegoats for the university’s lack of action and, if we’re being frank, a bit of personal irresponsibility.
Five Pike leaders, fraternity president Alexander M. Jandik, 21, event planner Steven A. Libert, 20, fraternity vice president James P. Harvey, 21; fraternity pledge advisor Omar Salameh, 21; and fraternity secretary Patrick W. Merrill, 19, all face a class 4 felony charge of hazing, according to NBC Chicago.
Seventeen other Pike members were charged with a class A misdemeanor hazing offense.
Hazing becomes a crime in Illinois if a group requires a prospective member to commit an act in order to join the group and that act is not sanctioned by the university. The act must also result in bodily harm to the participant. If it results in great bodily harm or death, the crime becomes a felony.
If convicted, the five leaders face up to three years in prison. The others face up to a year in jail each.
You may not feel bad for these twenty-two students. Their lives as students and future professionals are pretty much over. Whenever someone looks up these students’ names, they will find the hazing incident. If the five leaders are convicted of a felony, they’ll have trouble voting, owning firearms, holding office, getting into graduate schools, or possibly even finding employment, depending on what their professional goals were. On the other hand, Bogenberger’s life is literally over.
It is also important to note that NIU requires a permit for any planned social event, plus a sober monitor for each twenty guests. Pike never obtained the permits. It was an unsanctioned binge drinking night where peer pressure led to a pledge’s death.
Still, at least according to FOX 32’s, “Mom’s Night” was practiced by a number of fraternities and sororities, all on the same night, every year, with the university reportedly looking the other way. The students will face criminal charges for their part in Bogenberger’s death but what changes will be implemented at the university?
- Speak to a Chicago Criminal Law Attorney (FindLaw)
- Hazing charges filed against 22 students in NIU fraternity death (FOX 32)
- FAMU Hazing Ritual Tied to Student’s Death (FindLaw’s Injured Blog)
22 NIU Frat Members Charged in Hazing Death (FindLaw’s Blotter)