Dr. William Watkins, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at California State University, Northridge, released the following statement:
We would like to once again express our deep condolences to the family and loved ones of Armando Villa. Following Armando’s tragic death while on a fraternity-sponsored hike in the Angeles National Forest, California State University, Northridge (CSUN) announced that we would conduct a formal investigation into the circumstances surrounding Armando’s untimely death while participating in Pi Kappa Phi fraternity activities.
In addition to this administrative investigation, we are currently reviewing all applicable policies and procedures to ensure that the university’s zero-tolerance policy on hazing is clearly understood and followed. We are deeply committed to protecting the health and safety of all students.
Separate and apart from the independent criminal investigation currently being conducted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, CSUN’s own formal investigation is examining all facts and circumstances surrounding the events leading up to Armando’s death. To undertake this investigation, CSUN retained an external investigator, who we expect to conclude his investigation in early September. The university will then determine if Pi Kappa Phi or any individual CSUN students violated university policies in connection with this tragedy. The university will take all appropriate actions based on the findings of the investigation.
Until the investigation is completed, Pi Kappa Phi remains suspended from all activities, including recruiting new members. While we cannot pre-judge the results of the investigation, possible sanctions for the fraternity can be as severe as withdrawal of official recognition for an indefinite period of time. For any CSUN student or students found in violation of the student code of conduct, sanctions could be as serious as expulsion from the university.
While the internal review continues, we have implemented, effective immediately, several critical enhancements to the procedures relating to the recruitment, intake and initiation of new members into fraternities and sororities, as well as any other student clubs or organizations that engage in similar recruitment activities. First, these student groups will be required to submit in advance a plan detailing the activities that will occur and the individual student leaders who will be responsible. The plans will require the review and sign-off by a university advisor who shall be a member of our faculty or professional staff. Second, prospective new members will be required to undergo a pre-recruitment education program prior to attending any recruitment activities and being extended an offer of membership in any organization. Finally, all current active members will participate in a program to retrain them on the processes of new member recruitment, intake and initiation. Clubs and organizations that fail to adhere to the new procedures are subject to sanctions that could lead to a withdrawal of university recognition, including the loss of the ability to operate as a CSUN student organization. Additional changes to procedures and/or policies may be enacted based on the findings of the university’s internal investigation.
CSUN has numerous policies and codes of conduct applicable to the situation as it is currently understood, including:
- CSUN’s Code of Ethics for Student Clubs and Organizations;
- CSU’s Student Code of Conduct
- CSUN’s Policies Concerning Hazing
- CSUN’s Guidelines for Fraternity and Sorority Activities
All of these documents are available on the CSUN website at www.csun.edu and are provided to all students and organizations, as applicable.
Because of the ongoing criminal and administrative investigations, the university is limited at this time in the information we can provide.