Chico State’s notorious history

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Published 2011-04-11T21:16:00Z”/>


Griffin Rogers

Since the campus’ opening in 1889, Chico State has seen some current and future successes walk through its halls. A few others would walk down different paths. Paths that brought controversy. Paths to become infamous.

The following people, groups and events are of the more notorious that brought national attention to Chico State over the years.

<em>Phi Kappa Tau</em>

<strong>Infamous for</strong>: porn video.

<strong>Association to Chico State</strong>: fraternity.

Current members of Phi Kappa Tau have tried hard to rid themselves of the bad reputation that followed members in 2005, a group who hired a Southern California-based adult film company named Shane’s World to shoot a pornographic video in 2004, according to MTV.

The chapter has been trying to put its X-rated past behind them, said Julian Osuna, a senior business major and vice president of recruitment for Phi Kappa Tau.

Those issues left when those members did, he said.

<em>Adnan Khashoggi</em>

<strong>Infamous for</strong>: arms dealing.

<strong>Association to Chico State</strong>: former student.

Khashoggi, born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in 1935, was 18 when he attended Chico State, according to Time Magazine. In order to help his son in college, Khashoggi’s father, a wealthy Middle Eastern physician, sent him $10,000 to buy a new car. Instead, Khashoggi invested in heavy trucks he leased to a construction company. He eventually made enough money to move into a hotel and hire a female student as a personal aide, according to Time Magazine. All of this was achieved during his three semesters at Chico State.

By the early ’70s, Khashoggi was making millions off selling military weapons between foreign countries, according to The New York Times. He was involved in “almost every” major scandal in the 20th century including the Iran-Contra affair, an event involving sales of arms to Iran during the Reagan Administration.

Conspirators have even connected him to Princess Diana’s death and the Florida recount in the 2000 elections, according to the Times article.

Khashoggi continues to come up in recent news, as recently as this month when a former executive director of a bank in Switzerland denied accusations of being linked to the international arms dealer, according to

<em>Chi Tau</em>

<strong>Infamous for</strong>: fatal hazing.

<strong>Association to Chico State</strong>: some fraternity members were students.

“Hell Week” started in late January 2005 for pledges willing to do what it took to become a member of Chi Tau, a fraternity not recognized by Chico State. After a few days of enduring often humiliating trials, two pledges remained and were told to exercise in a damp basement while chugging water out of a five-gallon jug, according to a 2005 Orion article. Hypothermia set in as pledge Matthew Carrington’s brain stem began to swell from water intoxication. He died two hours later.

“It’s a worst nightmare for any of us,” said Joe Wills, Chico State’s public affairs director. “To find out the terms of how he died was gut-wrenching.”

Carrington’s death was terrible and sad, he said, but the result forced a review and evaluation to improve the Greek system at Chico State.

<em>Nicholas Nagy-Talavera</em>

<strong>Infamous for</strong>: accused of being a Soviet spy.

<strong>Association to Chico State</strong>: former professor.

Nagy-Talavera was born in Hungary in 1929, and was in German concentration camps by the time he was 15 years old, said history professor Robert Archer, a former student of Nagy-Talavera. In Auschwitz, Nagy-Talavera was forced to become an assistant to Nazi physicians, including the notorious Josef Mengele, who performed “horrific” human experiments on live inmates.

“He was a really bizarre guy,” Archer said. “Big guy, big square shoulders. If he wasn’t off on a tirade, he was good.”

After some time in a Russian gulag, Nagy-Talavera fled to the U.S. in 1957 where he became a CIA source for two years, according to The New York Times. He dealt with the increasingly suspicious CIA in the years that followed until they briefly accused him of being a Soviet spy while he was a faculty member at Chico State in 1967. Nagy-Talavera continued teaching at Chico State until his retirement in 1991. He died in 2000.

<em>Carolivia Herron</em>

<strong>Infamous for</strong>: controversial children’s book.

<strong>Association to Chico State</strong>: former professor.

Herron taught English at Chico State in 1998 when her book “Nappy Hair” received national attention for bringing third-grade Brooklyn teacher Ruth Sherman under verbal fire after reading it to her class, according to the New York Times. Parents called Sherman, a white teacher, racist and threatened her because she read the book, which focuses on physical features of African-Americans to a dominantly Black and Latino classroom.

Sherman requested a transfer. Herron taught at Chico State for one year.

<em>Steven Crittenden</em>

<strong>Infamous for</strong>: double murder.

<strong>Association to Chico State</strong>: former student.

In 1987, former Chico State football player Steven Crittenden, then 19, was arrested for the robbery and torture murders of William Chiapella, 68, and his wife Katherine, 67, according to The Los Angeles Times. Crittenden received the death penalty by Judge James Garbolino in 1989.

Crittenden’s case is still in the appeals process, and he has a hearing June 8, according to the California Eastern District Court.

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<strong>Griffin Rogers can be reached at</strong>

<em>[email protected]</em>


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