Are Fraternities at the University of California at Berkeley Out of Control? INSIDE EDITION Investigates
Some Berkeley residents say their neighborhoods have come under siege by out-of-control fraternities. The fraternities deny the claims. INSIDE EDITION investigates.
By day, the University of California at Berkeley is a portrait of excellence in higher education.
But when the sun goes down, some Berkeley residents say their neighborhoods come under siege by out-of-control fraternities.
In front of one fraternity house, INSIDE EDITION saw a student so intoxicated he was passed out on the sidewalk.
Drunken students scream from fraternity rooftops at 2 a.m.
It's like a scene straight out of the classic comedy Animal House, but neighbors say it is all too real.
Some Berkeley-area residents say they can't take it anymore, and they've filed a class action lawsuit against all 35 fraternities at UC Berkeley.
"Sometimes they start on Thursday and they end up stopping Monday morning," says Paul Ghysels.
Ghysels's family has owned a home just off the Berkeley campus since the turn of the century.
"They viciously broke into the back of my house, kicked in the back door, and urinated and vomited on our furniture," Ghysels told INSIDE EDITION's Chief Investigative Correspondent Matt Meagher.
"You're not just some grouchy neighbor trying to ruin everybody's fun, are you?" asks Matt Meagher.
Ghysels responded, "I'm not. They threw a seven-and-a-half-pound barbell weight off the roof at my wife who was working in the yard, just missing her."
Scared for his family's safety, Ghysels installed surveillance cameras around his home. His cameras captured parties spilling into the streets, students urinating on his property, and fights that have left the sidewalk in front of his home splattered with blood.
He repeatedly calls the police but says the harassment hasn't stopped.
"Members of a fraternity shot my front windows out, and the bullet holes are still in my window. They would sit here and shoot BB guns at my wife and my cats when they were out in the yard," said Ghysels.
Ghysels's cameras were rolling when walked over to politely ask the fraternity members to quiet down one night.
"You've woken me up like three times already. It's going on two o'clock in the morning," he told them.
As he walked away, they yelled threats: "Hey, [expletive deleted] you, Paul. Move [expletive deleted]."
One of Ghysels's neighbors alleges she was struck on the head by a golf ball and received emergency medical treatment.
When INSIDE EDITION recently visited the neighborhood, we saw students stumbling from one frat party to the next wearing costumes and togas.
Several students were so drunk leaving frat parties they had to be carried home. We spotted one student openly urinating in the bushes.
And after beer bottles were thrown, a fight broke out in front of one fraternity house.
INSIDE EDITION also saw one individual rolling a tire up the middle of the street at 3 a.m.
Another young man was so intoxicated he actually passed out on the sidewalk. The student had to be taken away in an ambulance.
We tried to talk to some fraternity members, but they weren't happy to see us. Some students actually made obscene gestures while others became confrontational.
Attorney Jim Ewbank represents all 35 fraternities at UC Berkeley. He and fraternity member Anthony Wright spoke to INSIDE EDITION via satellite.
"We tend to see those sensational incidents, which nobody condones by the way, as more isolated and not a pattern of behavior," said Ewbank.
"I have had neighbors come up to me and say the situation has improved," Wright told Meagher.
"I'm telling you some of the worst behavior we witnessed was from the roof of your fraternity two weekends ago. Where were you then?" Meagher asked him.
Wright said, "Had someone made a complaint, it would have been addressed immediately."
As for Paul Ghysels, all he wants is to have decent neighbors.
The fraternities continue to maintain that the lawsuit is without merit. As for the University, they point out they are not defendants in the lawsuit but they admit some fraternities have engaged in bad behavior and they say they have worked hard to address these issues. In fact, one fraternity has now been shut down.
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