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|CHICO STATE UNIVERSITY
The Delta Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Phi was installed at Chico State in the 1950s. The chapter was suspended by Delta Sigma Phi headquarters for alcohol violations, and also expelled from the university in 2001 for alcohol violations. The chapter decided to continue to operate as a rogue fraternity under the name Chi Tau. The Delta Alpha alumni control board continued to own the group's house, located on West Fourth Street, which was purchased by the board in 1991.
In fall 2003 the Interfraternity Council (IFC) at Chico State pushed for the city to remove the group's Greek letters from the front of their house. The organization was giving other, legitimate, Greek groups on campus a bad reputation, and they wanted to distance themselves from Chi Tau. The local fraternity was known for parties, alcohol, and violence because since its expulsion as a recognized organization it was not held to the policies or standards of other groups. Other Greek organizations wanted to strip the "XT" letters from the house in a measure to prevent community members from associating Chi Tau with other recognized Greek organizations. The fraternity was no longer interested in regaining affiliation with Delta Sigma Phi because they felt they would be restricted by Delta Sig policies and would not benefit from a relationship with the national organization.
21-year old Matthew Carrington transferred to Chico State in fall 2004 from Diablo Valley College. He was studying management information systems and was asked to pledge Chi Tau by friend Mike Quintana. The two men began pledging that fall.
Toward the end of the pledge process, Carrington indicated to friends that he was tired of pledging and that his grades were beginning to suffer from it. Chi Tau forced the pledges to spend the final week, known by the fraternity as "Initiation Week," or more commonly by the pledges as "hell week", in the basement of the fraternity house. The 10 foot by 20 foot basement room was a cold, damp place littered with cigarette butts and writing on the walls, including the phrase "In the basement, no one can hear you scream."
The week of living in the basement began on January 30, 2005. On that same day, the sewer line in the house had burst, and the basement was flooded with several inches of sewage contaminated water. Pledges were forced to do push-ups and sit-ups in the sewage and sleep in small cubby holes that had been cut into the basement wall.
"Pledge Olympics" got underway around 11 pm. Pledges were forced to run up and down the stairs and play Wiffleball inside the house. Due to extremely cold conditions, they were allowed to sleep in the main portion of the house instead of the basement.
The events of Tuesday, February 1 would last into the early hours of Wednesday morning. Carrington and Quintana were instructed to stand on one foot on a wooden bench, wearing only t-shirts, jeans, and socks, while Chi Tau members quizzed them on fraternity history. If an incorrect answer was given, they were told to drink as much water as possible from a five-gallon Alhambra bottle or do push-ups on the floor. Cold water was also poured on them while being blasted by fans. They had to ask permission to urinate on themselves and were eventually told to take their shirts off with basement temperatures in the 30s. Near 2 a.m., active Chi Tau members, Gabriel Maestretti, and Carlos James DeVilla Abrille, arrived at the house after a night of heavy drinking. Maestretti passed out on a couch in the basement, and at around 2:30 am, the pledges, already in poor condition, were told they were done. However, Maestretti woke up and decided he would take over the initiation event instead of allowing the pledges to leave the basement or sleep.
Carrington collapsed around 3:40 a.m. and went into a seizure that lasted nearly one minute. Chi Tau members changed Carrington out of his wet clothing and laid him on the couch after wrapping him in a sleeping bag. Quintana noticed that Carrington had stopped breathing around 5 am. He performed CPR on Carrington until paramedics arrived and transported him to Enloe Medical Center, where he died soon after arrival. The official cause of death was cardiac dysrhythmia and cerebral edema, or brain-swelling, due to water intoxication. Hypothermia also contributed to the death.
- Korry, Elaine (November 14, 2005). "A Fraternity Hazing Gone Wrong". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2010-05-28.
- Vega, Cecilia M. (March 4, 2005). "Horrifying details in hazing death". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-05-28.
- Morrison, Keith (June 24, 2005). "Chico hazing death". MSNBC. Retrieved 2010-05-28.