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Hazing at Texas university left fraternity pledges ‘permanently disfigured,’ suit says

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Two students at Texas A&M University claim in a lawsuit they suffered chemical burns during a fraternity hazing incident.

Patrick Close and Jose Figueroa, former pledges in the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, seek $1 million from the lawsuit that was filed Oct. 18 in Harris County District Court. They claim members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, commonly referred to as SAE, violated the Texas anti-hazing statue .

The students claim in the lawsuit they were pledging the fraternity during the spring semester when they were “forced to do various kinesthetic activities.” At least eight of the fraternity’s members then poured “various foreign substances on them,” the lawsuit states.

“The substances poured on Close and Figueroa included human spit, raw eggs, paint, food condiments and eventually the industrial strength cleaner known as SC-200,” according to the lawsuit.

SC-200 is for industrial and institutional use only and can cause “severe skin burns and serious eye damage.” People who are exposed to the chemical are advised to immediately rinse their skin.

Close and Figueroa suffered severe burns and were transported to a Houston hospital for “emergency skin graft surgery,” according to the lawsuit.

“Close and Figueroa are both permanently disfigured as a result of the burns they endured,” the lawsuit states. They will likely require further medical treatment, attorneys said in the lawsuit.

On Wednesday, Texas A&M’s SAE chapter was suspended for two years, which will be followed by two years of probation, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

“Texas A&M will not tolerate actions or behavior that degrades, intimidates, humiliates or endangers students,” a university spokeswoman, Kelly Brown, told the publication. “We will continue our hazing prevention education programs, which includes outlining what constitutes hazing and the consequences for such poor choices. Hazing is a violation of Texas A&M’s Student Code of Conduct, student organization policies and Texas state law.”

The national SAE chapter and its local chapter were both named in the lawsuit, as well as the following members: Austin Marshall, George Jarkesy, Dylan Vacek, Ryan Pugh, Andrew Mitchell, Kaleb Snodgrass, Cole Gerletti and Jorge Garza.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon did not comment on the lawsuit in a statement to A&M’s student newspaper, The Battalion.

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