UC Davis Sued For Allegedly Ignoring Abusive Hazing At University Fraternity
UPDATE: On Thursday, UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi responded to The Huffington Post's article about Ryan Clifford's lawsuit with the following statement:
We take the recent allegations in this lawsuit very seriously, and are committed to a fair outcome, wherever the facts may lead. If hazing occurred at this fraternity, we will take appropriate sanctions. UC Davis will not tolerate abusive behavior toward its students.
If allegations of hazing were not properly investigated and handled, we will take appropriate actions. I take the safety and wellbeing of our students as one of my highest personal priorities and will strive to ensure that UC Davis provides a safe and welcoming environment for all. However, I also want to protect our students and staff from unjust accusations, and will ensure we have all the facts before reaching any final conclusions.
On Friday, former UC Davis student Ryan Clifford sued the university for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, creating a hostile educational environment and three other complaints after UC Davis allegedly ignored his reports of abusive hazing tactics at Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity.
Clifford, a former member of the Jewish fraternity, claimed that AEPi engaged in violence, sexual abuse and forced consumption of drugs and alcohol, which the university ignored, even after several reports. Clifford, who is not Jewish, alleged that he was "specifically targeted for the harshest form of hazing known as 'ratfucking' because of his non-Jewish religious affiliation."
According to the suit, pledges were required to attend a retreat in Lake Tahoe where senior members forced them to drink "inordinate amounts of alcohol," as well as drinks laced with narcotics. Clifford claimed that he was then forced to undress in front of the group while members touched his penis and made sexual comments.
Clifford claimed that when he refused alcohol at another event one week later, he was ordered to wear a padded vest while other members punched him in the stomach. When Clifford later tried to leave, one of his fraternity brothers brutally attacked him. Clifford suffered a severely fractured foot from the attack that required two orthopedic surgeries and permanently affected his gait and range of motion.
Clifford reported the abuse to the university and the fraternity was put on "conditional registration" for seven months. However, according to Clifford, the university did nothing to monitor the fraternity and the abuses continued. When Clifford stopped attending fraternity meetings and events, he claimed members threatened and harassed him in his classes and around campus. Clifford continued reporting the abuse, but the university allegedly did not respond.
Finally, Clifford filed a state suit against the fraternity. According to Clifford, when the university was informed of the lawsuit, the Office of the Dean advised Clifford to withdraw from classes and discontinue his attendance at UC Davis. Clifford claims he was 6.5 credits short of graduation.
UC Davis isn't the only university facing serious allegations regarding hazing abuse. Earlier this summer, the mother of Cornell University student George Desdunes sued the university for $25 million after her son died of alcohol poisoning during a hazing ritual.
"It's senseless," said Desdunes's godfather in an interview with ABC. "The culture of hazing has this as a consequence. "