Syracuse University student may lose fingers to frostbite after alleged hazing incident

Posted at 3:53 PM, Mar 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-05 15:44:44-05

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP/PIX11) — Police have charged two Syracuse University fraternity members for an outdoor hazing stunt that could cost a pledge four of his fingers due to frostbite.

The Syracuse Police Department says three young men pledging the Nu Alpha Phi fraternity were taken to a city park around midnight Saturday and made to do exercises, including push-ups and crawling in the snow. The pledges were wearing hooded sweatshirts, pants and boots. They were not wearing gloves. Police say they were forced to do the exercises because they failed to perform their daily duties.

One of the pledges told police he estimated they were in the snow for about 30 minutes. When they were done, they were given hand warmers and told to walk back to the house. He said after going home, he ran his hands under warm water but the pain continued. When the pledge went to the hospital, doctors told him he may lose his ring and pinkie fingers on both hands because of severe frostbite.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the first recognizing signs of frostbite include a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy and numbness.

Police on Wednesday arrested two frat members — 19-year-old Tae Kim and 21-year-old Jeffrey Yam — and charged them with misdemeanor hazing. The fraternity was suspended Monday when university officials heard about the incident. Both suspects were released and will appear in court at a later date. The two other pledging members of the fraternity refused to cooperate with police during the investigation.

Syracuse University released a statement Thursday regarding the incident to reinforce their zero tolerance policy for hazing.

“Syracuse University defines hazing as any action that intentionally or recklessly causes or poses a substantial risk of harm to the mental or physical health or safety to one or more persons,” said Senior Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz. “Any individual or organization that commits or encourages hazing will be held accountable under the University’s Anti-Hazing Policy and the Student Code of Conduct.”

Kantrowitz said students must be committed to creating a campus that respects the dignity of others.

“Our community is stronger because of those who have come forward and taken a stand when these instances do occur,” said Kantrowitz.