The new millennium hasn’t been kind to the brothers of Lambda Phi Epsilon.
In recent years, the nationwide Asian fraternity has been linked to a fatal stabbing in San Jose, a drug raid in Riverside and gunplay in Texas.
With the death Aug. 30 of a 19-year-old pledge after a football game in Irvine—a rough, no-pads, no helmets tackle contest for pledges—the fraternity again finds itself in an unflattering spotlight.
The latest incident, which is being investigated by Irvine police as a possible hazing case, could also damage the reputation of other Asian fraternities, said Walter M. Kimbrough, a college president who has written about ethnic fraternities.
Media coverage of the San Jose and Irvine fatalities has provided the public’s first real exposure to Asian Greek organizations, Kimbrough said, and this could pose a public relations nightmare that could stall or sink the burgeoning movement.
Lambda Phi Epsilon’s track record at other campuses is mixed.
In 2003, San Jose State University Lambdas were involved in a midnight melee that left one member fatally stabbed in the heart and several others hospitalized. Police said about 60 frat brothers faced off against rivals from Pi Alpha Phi, another Asian fraternity.
Part of the dispute revolved around which group was the first Asian fraternity to spread nationally.