Cal Poly fraternity reaches settlement in hazing death

May 23, 2011

Carson Starkey

The parents of a California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo freshman who died while rushing Sigma Alpha Epsilon have reached a settlement with the national fraternity.

Carson Starkey, 18, an Austin Texas native, died after obeying a Sigma Alpha Epsilon order to drink a bottle of alcohol. After Starkey lost consciousness, fraternity members removed his fraternity pin and pledge book and started to drive the unresponsive pledge to the hospital.

However, after Starkey allegedly regained consciousness, the fraternity members took him home and placed him on a bed. Starkey was pronounced dead the next morning.

Scott and Julia Starkey filed a lawsuit in 2010 against the Sigma Alpha Epsilon and nine fraternity members for their alleged involvement in their son’s hazing death.

One of the students, Haithem Ibrahim, 21, agreed to a $500,000 settlement with the Starkeys in Sept. 2010.

The Starkey family provided the following statement:

“Our family filed suit against Sigma Alpha Epsilon and others to hold them accountable for the death of our beloved son, Carson, and to make changes in the fraternity system, university, and law that would protect other students and families. Our family feels it is our responsibility to keep other families from suffering the loss that we have. It has become our duty to help save lives.

“During the lawsuit, we uncovered numerous longstanding, dangerous problems with the way fraternities operate on campuses across the country. These are problems that Sigma Alpha Epsilon and other fraternities have known about for decades. Such failures were a cause of Carson’s death. In reaching a settlement with Sigma Alpha Epsilon, we have required that it make fundamental changes in the way it and its chapters operate, nationwide, particularly concerning hazing and the availability and misuse of alcohol.

“Parents and students will also be able to readily obtain timely, accurate information about potential problems and dangers in the fraternity before they decide to join. These changes are historic because, to our understanding, no other fraternity has ever agreed – voluntarily or in settlement of litigation – to make its operations safer in this manner. And, we would not have been able to compel such changes by proceeding to trial, as a jury could only have awarded us financial compensation. Our efforts to honor Carson’s memory by protecting others have never been focused on personal financial compensation.

“Because our case against the students who prevented Carson from being taken to the hospital, and then failed to get him the care he obviously required, is still proceeding to trial in September, 2011, we will not presently comment further on the settlement or disclose the specific terms of the settlement.”

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One of the students, Haithem Ibrahim, 21, agreed to a $500,000 settlement with the Starkeys in Sept. 2010.

This is what is known as blood money, pure and simple.

With that, we have the value of human life? I don’t know if I could put a dollar amount on the lives of my loved ones, and even if I could, I think it would only make the emotions worse. But that’s me.

Hopefully, half a mil can buy someone closure.

This is a great post. I happen to know some of the inside information regarding how Cal Poly handled the situation and I know why most of this information never got out. For all I can tell, Cal Poly put more effort into protecting their image than they did to making sure the situation did not happen again. They took a reactionary approach rather than an honest and mature approach to an ongoing problem.

You can debate the past all you want, but the more important part is the future. What has Cal Poly done to make sure this did not happen again? Maybe not as much as they could have if they had taken more responsibility. If Cal Poly had acted in a more responsible manner, maybe the recent sexual assaults would not have taken place.

Yes kids make horrible decisions at times. They are also very vulnerable sometimes. And believe me when I say 18 is very young and definitely still a kid. I have raised many. And worked with many youth groups and etc.

I have now been sober for 27 years and know how hard it is to say no to drinking even that first drink. Not saying anyone else has the problem but we all know alcoholics drink. We live to drink. In fact, right now I wish I was drinking. For me it just doesn’t work. I am too crazy for booze.

Sorry I got off track, kids that want to be a part of the “group” suffer greatly at times. Not saying no can get you into many problems. Just ask this drunk.

I think the issue is more peer pressure than anything else. Especially when you want to be a part of the group.

I think a lot of the kids “rushing” for a fraternity will do almost anything to impress the people in the group to be accepted. I think most people know that. It would be great if kids had the guts to just say no but that would be taking the chance of not getting into the fraternity. So they do stupid stuff at times.

Although I never joined a fraternity in college and glad I didn’t because I could say no if I wanted and did most of the time and certainly wouldn’t have been accepted, most likely. But I am quite sure there are good wholesome fraternities, I just missed their parties. Or just not invited most likely. At that time I wouldn’t have wanted me at the party.

I really don’t care where they spend the money. Money will not bring their child back and I don’t think the money has anything to do with the suit. It is meant to save lives. God Bless these people for trying.

Am I the only one who sees this as a human beings inability to take responsibility for their actions? No one poured alcohol down his throat and forced him to drink until he collapsed. I’m sick and tired of people blaming the system and not taking responsibility for their actions. I’m VERY sorry for your loss, but YOUR son put himself in that situation. The fraternity did not seek him out, ask him to join, then pour alcohol down his throat until he passed out. He found them. He chose them. He rushed them. He drank the alcohol of his own will. Now he’s gone because of those terrible decisions on his part. How is $500,000 from the fraternity is going to make that all better?

It smells like a load of bull.

Instead of suing the fraternities, set up some alcohol abuse seminar’s and start educating our youth so they can make better decisions. Can we get a followup story on what the Starky’s are going to use this money for? I want to know if they end up spending it on themselves or actually helping prevent further alcohol related deaths in college due to poor information and education of our underage youth. Any takers that the money goes to the prior and not the latter?

Take responsibility for your actions! Don’t let Carson’s death be for absolutely nothing.

“Intoxicating drinks have produced evils more deadly because it is more continuous than all those caused to mankind by the great historic scourges of war, famine, and pestilence combined – Gladstone”

“There is scarcely a crime before me that is not directly or indirectly caused by strong drink – Judge Coleridge”

Thank you for your efforts to save lives. God Bless your family. Carson will be sorely missed I am sure. I am very sorry for your loss.