US & Canada

San Diego State University suspends fraternities after student dies

Dylan Hernandez smiling at the camera Image copyright GoFundMe
Image caption The death of Dylan Hernandez was confirmed on Monday evening

San Diego State University has suspended 14 fraternities following the death of a 19-year-old student who had allegedly attended a fraternity event.

Dylan Hernandez was taken to hospital on Thursday morning, the day after the event, and died over the weekend.

Six Interfraternity Council (IFC) groups were already suspended and four under investigation prior to the latest incident, the university said.

San Diego State University police have opened an investigation into the death.

A fundraiser organised in memory of Dylan Hernandez has already raised more than $25,000 (£19,490).

The page says Dylan was "an outgoing, light-hearted and goofy person who had so much love to give to everyone he met. He never failed to make everyone in the room smile and his laugh was infectious".

The San Diego medical examiner said Mr Hernandez was found without pulse and not breathing by his roommate in their dorm room on Thursday morning.

It listed the date of death as Friday, but the university said he had died with his family by his side on Sunday.

Six of the university's fraternities were already under suspension, which occurs when there is a "perceived concern for the health and safety of a member", according to the university.

A statement from the university said the investigation by university police had "uncovered information which alleges that a fraternity was involved in possible misconduct".

Fraternities in the US have come under much scrutiny in recent years, most recently in the case of Timothy Piazza, a 19-year-old student who died after a fraternity event at Penn State University in 2017.

He suffered internal injuries after falling down stairs during a fraternity initiation.

During the process of trying to join a fraternity, students are often put into activities or situations designed to cause embarrassment, ridicule or risk of harm, which is called hazing.

Hazing rituals are often harmless, but in some cases can turn into extreme bullying, physical violence and sexual abuse.

At least one hazing death has been reported every year in the US since 1959.

Since 2000, there have been at least 70 student deaths attributed to hazing.

Hazing and initiation ceremonies are widely banned, but continue to be prevalent in universities across the US.

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Media captionThe Tim Piazza case: People "have to see the damage" of hazing

What is a fraternity?

A fraternity is a social organisation at a college or university, founded on a set of principles that members must abide by and mostly designated by a grouping of Greek letters.

A fraternity usually means male members, and a sorority female, although many women's and mixed organisations also use the term fraternity.

Undergraduates "rush" the fraternity they want to join by going to fraternity events and getting to know members. If the fraternity approves, they will give them a "bid" - an invite to the next stage.

Potential members then go through a "pledging" process to prove their value, through challenges based around loyalty and trust - a process that can also include hazing.

If the individual completes the pledge process, they become active members of the fraternity for life.

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