The death of an 18-year-old Filipino American student in a fraternity-related incident was attributed to alcohol binge drinking that has become the norm in American colleges.
Noah Caleb Domingo, a biological sciences freshman at the University of California Irvine, died when he attended a fraternity party of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon on the night of January 11.
Authorities found him lying in a bed of a house near the university on the morning of January 12 but reports indicated that he lost his life six hours earlier.
Based on the statements of Domingo’s father, the freshman attended a “big brother/little brother” rush week party that was hosted by the fraternity.
While the cause of his death is still under investigation, his family and friends believed that it was caused by excessive drinking of alcohol.
A 911 call related to the incident revealed that a group of men—presumably SAE fratmen—tried to revive Domingo after finding out he initially lost consciousness.
When the dispatcher asked why the freshman was unconscious, the caller replied that Domingo “had just drank too much” and “fell asleep with his head down.”
Domingo’s father also revealed that he was worried about the drinking culture of American colleges which he found concerning, especially after his son’s death.
Students of UC Irvine have also testified that fraternity parties would often have young men drink several kinds of alcohol in a continuous manner as a form of hazing.
The university has suspended SAE following the incident.
Meanwhile, fraternity members relayed that they are “heartbroken” over the freshman’s death.
Drinking culture in American colleges
Noah Domingo was not the first casualty of an alcohol binge drinking incident that involved SAE.
Justin Stuart in 2012 revealed that SAE fratmen at Salisbury University forced the pledges—including himself—to drink alcohol until they almost passed out as part of their initiation rites.
Aidan Mohr in 2013 was taken to a hospital by SAE fratmen of the Arizona State University when he downed around 20 tequila shots that made his blood alcohol level “nearly five times above legal limit.”
Bloomberg journalist John Hechinger, who penned “True Gentleman: The Broken Pledge of America’s Fraternities,” attributes the wild binge drinking to how films would glorify drinking culture.
“You have this 1978 movie Animal House. I’m not sure it was its intention but it satirized and glorified the drinking culture. It was deeply influential in what people thought a US college experience should look like,” he said in an interview.
Hechinger in his research also found that fraternities would offer hard liquor in their parties and make pledges drink to the point of losing consciousness.
Sharon Levy, a director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, revealed that students “drink to get drunk” as a form of socializing with their friends.
American Addiction Centers Inc. attributed binge drinking to “the wide availability of alcohol around college campuses, increased social pressure to drink, less structured time, inconsistent enforcement of underage drinking on and off campus, and stress related to academics.”
Last year, the North American Interfraternity Conference has ordered alcohol to be banned in 66 fraternities as of Sept. 1, 2019 in light of the deaths related to binge drinking in hazing.