Sigma Alpha Epsilon
Dec. 2, 2008: Carson Starkey, a freshman at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, died of alcohol poisoning while pledging for the university's Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter. An autopsy revealed that Starkey's blood alcohol content was between .39 and .44, a staggering five times the legal level of impairment. The architecture major had attended a "brown bag" event, where fraternity members ordered pledges to drink specified amounts of alcohol from bottles wrapped in paper bags. A wrongful death suit filed by Starkey's parents against the national fraternity, its local chapter and nine members, alleges that pledges were urged by older members to drink to excess. Four fraternity members, Haithem Ibrahim, Zacary Ellis, Russell Taylor, and Adam Marszal were arrested and charged with hazing and furnishing alcohol to a minor. Criminal proceedings against them are ongoing. Following Starkey's death, Cal Poly suspended its chapter of SAE, a 153-year-old organization, indefinitely. Since his death, Starkey's family has started With Carson, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness of hazing and alcohol poisoning.