American universities are notoriously portrayed in pop culture for their wild parties, making college look more like four years of fun rather than four years of hard work and dedication. Fraternities and sororities are also engrained in the American college culture, often viewed as organizations where you’ll meet ‘brothers and sisters’ who will have your back for life. But don’t think becoming a frat boy happens at the snap of a finger, or with a smile, either. It’s called Hell Week for a reason and it’s when hopeful college freshman pledge for the possibility of getting a coveted spot in the fraternity or sorority of their choice. Of course, not all hazing rituals are dangerous, demeaning or disturbing. But these 10 are just that. Find out the worst real-life hazing rituals that pledges have been put through, all for the chance of going Greek.
At the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, a sorority pledge was hospitalized after pledging for the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, while the sorority leader was criminally charged with assault. The pledge was allegedly punched in the face, had ice cold water poured over her and had vinegar squirted into her eyes. But it get’s worse. In round two (yes, there was a round two) she was further punched in the head, leading to a concussion, and abdomen, which led to vaginal bleeding. Seriously, what is the deal with these people?
In an anonymous letter submitted to the Hazing Prevention Center, a non-profit organization working to eliminate hazing from college campuses, a woman shared her experience pledging for a sorority. She explained that her sisters gave her a choice: either do a line of cocaine or be forced to use a sex toy on herself in front of the other sisters. So use a potent, illegal drug that’s laced with brain-altering chemicals or be degraded and humiliated while performing a sexual act in front of complete strangers? Or should we say sisters.
Swimming in excrement
A Dartmouth student came out with his hazing experience in 2012, and it’s not for those with a weak stomach. During hazing, pledges were told to swim in a kiddie pool filled with human excrement, semen and rotten food, as well as to eat vomit omelettes, chug vinegar (which made one pledge vomit blood) and drink beer that was poured between the cheeks of fellow pledges. And no, we’re not talking about the ones on the face. So much for the state’s anti-hazing law.
On a 2010 Kappa Sigma fraternity ski trip, a drunken pledge allegedly agreed to let his ‘brothers’ brand him with the fraternity’s Greek letters on his butt cheek, using a scalding hot iron hanger. The pledge was so drunk that he soon passed out, but that was not when the branding stopped. His other fraternity members chose to continue branding him with Tri Delta sorority letters, causing further third degree burns to his skin. It would take six surgeries to repair the damage done.
Though not as bad, this next hazing ritual definitely takes a mental toll. Cornell University has this on their list of “hazing incidents that have been described by students as having occurred at Cornell or other campuses.” Existing fraternity members would inform pledges that they were going to be branded, and “after blindfolding the new members and placing them by a fire, members took branding irons immersed in ice water and pressed them against the new members’ skin. Unable to distinguish cold from hot, new members thought they were being branded.” That’s got to mess with you, big time.
In 2008, Tulane University in New Orleans went under fire for a hazing ritual in which 10 members of Pi Kappa Alpha poured a boiling water, pepper spray and cayenne pepper mixture down the backs of pledges. As CNN reported, as the night went on, the water got hotter and hotter and those who refrained from screaming got worse burns than those who did. The 10 fraternity members who were involved in the hazing were arrested and faced charges of aggravated second-degree battery, after two pledges were sent to the hospital with severe burns. After the incident, the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was no longer recognized on campus.
At Rutgers University, the Sigma Gamma Rho sorority chose paddling as their prime mode of hazing. Pledges were struck with a wooden paddle for seven days straight and the pain got so intense, they were unable to sit. One pledge was hospitalized for blood clots due to the hits, and she suffered from severe welts from being struck over 200 times. The sorority sisters say the beatings were done to humble the pledges and build trust between them and their sisters. Sure.
A similar hazing incident happened at Florida A&M where band members were forced to play music while they were beaten with a paddle, punched and slapped.
At California State University Chico, pledges rushing for the Chi Tau fraternity were confined to the basement of the frat house. Each pledge was forced to drink five gallons of water while ice cold water was thrown at them and fans blowing cold air were pointed in their direction. They were also forced to do push-ups and more physical exercises, while standing on one foot on a bench. The all-night hazing continued and pledges were not allowed to use the washroom, instead they had to ask permission to wet themselves. They drank more and more water until one of the pledges collapsed, hypothermia set in and his brain swelled due to water intoxication, which killed him.
At the State University of New York, a similar incident occurred. Pledges rushing the Psi Epsilon Chi fraternity were subjected to a form of water hazing where they were forced to drink pitchers of water continuously, at times through a funnel. They were also forced to drink alcohol until sick, sit in sweltering hot confined spaces after being forced to exercise and consume drinks which had been urinated in. It was this that led one pledge to die of water intoxication, as he was forced to consume copious amounts of water through a funnel, causing his brain and lungs to swell.
At California Polytechnic State University, things went bad really fast when a hazing incident resulted in the death of a student and led to the arrest of two Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members. The hazing ritual was simple but deadly: drink as much as you can in 90 minutes. The pledge in question had a blood alcohol level of .44 at the time of his death, which is over five times the legal driving limit and is a higher level than the effects of surgical anesthesia.
The same incident occurred at Northern Illinois University, where another pledge lost their life due to alcohol poisoning while pledging for Pi Kappa Alpha. After drinking an estimated 40 ounces of vodka in 90 minutes, his blood alcohol level was a .35%. After passing out, his ‘brothers’ simply dragged him into an empty room and closed the door. He was found dead the next day.
In a hazing ritual at Florida A&M University, a band member was beaten to death by his band mates in what’s described as a long standing ritual that one has to go through to be accepted. It is called “Crossing Bus C” and band members had to run inside a chartered bus, from one end to the other, while being beaten by other members. Touch the back wall and the beating ends. The band member in question touched the back wall, but not after being severely beaten. His cause of death was internal bleeding due to blunt-force trauma and 12 of the former students involved in the hazing faced manslaughter charges.