A Former USD Fraternity is Under Heat for a Hazing Incident

(VERMILLION, SD) A former University of South Dakota fraternity pledge is suing members of Sigma Nu for hazing him. He claims the incident left him "permanently and severely" injured. The frat house shut down late last year, and now it could have even more problems. So, is hazing still a problem at USD?

"It's shocking, anytime an accident occurs on campus, its shocking to everybody," says Breana Lannen, a USD Senior, and member of Alpha Xi Delta Epsilon Chapter.

According to the lawsuit, Matthew Cronan, a freshman from California was new to Vermillion. He didn't know a soul, until he met a member of Sigma Nu.

According to Cronan, the next several months were filled with partying, he was a pledge and would routinely drink and party at the house.

Fast forward to the night of February 10th, 2010.

According to the lawsuit, members of Sigma Nu encouraged Cronan to take shots of hard liquor and drink a 40 oz. bottle of beer, all in preparation for a pledge skit.

Cronan says, the skit required him to dance for sorority girls in nothing but a Speedo. He was so drunk; he could barely walk, Cronan fell down a flight of stairs, hit his head and was knocked unconscious.

The lawsuit says, instead of calling an ambulance members of the frat proceeded to move cronan in an effort to conceal the party even with blood coming out of his ears. He was later taken to the hospital.

Lab results show, Cronan had a near-lethal amount of alcohol in his system, with a blood alcohol level of point-three-three.

Breana Lannen heard about the incident later.

"We all knew that there had been an accident, and that he was hurt, and that he would not be returning to school. And that was sad, we all felt bad for him," she says.

Lannen says hazing is a practice that is forbidden on campus.

"We absolutely have a no tolerance policy for hazing. We read our chapter bylaws (every) semester, we sign a no hazing contract," says Lannen.

The president of another fraternity acknowledges there's alcohol in Greek life - but says his responsibility includes keeping underage students from drinking.

"Drinking does happen, I'm not going to deny that, and I'd say at least in our fraternity, we have a pretty big safety net, and we really watch out for people," says Galvin Pockop, a junior at USD and President of Tau Kappa Epsilon.

Cronan is seeking 300 thousand dollars in damages. The fraternity has not yet responded to the federal lawsuit.

Meanwhile, USD requires all freshman pledges, and a vast majority of fraternity and sorority members to attend seminars with speakers who talk about the dangers of binge drinking, and how to help someone out if they are in trouble.