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Former UA student says hazing burned his eyes

Filed $1,000,000 claim against UA
Posted at 8:16 PM, Oct 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-25 01:37:40-04

TUCSON, Ariz - A former student is making a million dollar claim against the University of Arizona.

KGUN9 is not naming the student, whose attorney says he has left the school. The lawyer says the University failed to keep a fraternity from hazing him so severely his eyes were burned -- and he still feels psychological trauma from the incident back in April.

The student says a frat member splashed hot sauce in his eyes when he did not perform an initiation ritual the right way and over several days, the pain got worse to the point where doctors at Banner University Medical Center gave him morphine.

The lawyer’s letter that asks UA for a million dollars in damages says doctors determined the student's eyes suffered acid burns so severe one eye is down to 20/200 vision.

The student also says he developed a severe infection from cuts sustained when he was forced to do push ups on a floor covered with broken glass.

He says it happened at the Theta Chi house. UA has suspended the fraternity while it investigates.

UA has a no tolerance policy when it comes to hazing. It defines hazing as an act by an organization and that "...The act contributes to a substantial risk of potential physical injury, mental harm, or degradation; or causes physical injury, mental harm, or personal degradation...

In a statement to KGUN 9 vice provost and dean of students Kendal Washington White said " The University placed the fraternity on interim suspension and opened an inquiry when it learned of the allegations in the student’s claim. That inquiry is ongoing.

Over the last several years we have worked closely with sororities and fraternities on campus to combat hazing through prevention and disciplinary programs. We provide a hotline for reporting hazing and publicize which fraternities and sororities are currently under sanction or investigation at http://greek.arizona.edu/standards/chapter-conduct-and-judicial [greek.arizona.edu] for students and parents.

The conversation against hazing starts with students at orientation and continues through rush and recruitment. Chapter leaders are required to submit anti-hazing paperwork to reinforce our zero-tolerance hazing policy; reminding members, officers and pledges that hazing is prohibited and the consequences for causing harm."

UA Police say the Dean of Students office works to ensure that fraternities and sororities stay a safe, positive experience. Officer Jesus Aguilar says police help send a message about hazing and other ways students can stray into trouble.

“We work with the dean of students especially with the incoming freshmen, to do the outreach and education for jog, our drug and alcohol awareness anti hazing, and another things like sex assault and consent and things like that."

And frats do get slapped with strict penalties.

University records say two are under investigation including Theta Chi. Seven others have lost recogition for hazing, alcohol, health and safety violations or poor academic performance.

We could not find anyone to comment at the Theta Chi house. The fraternity's national organization says hazing "runs contrary to Theta Chi's mission of developing Resolute Men."