Fraternities have become synonymous around the world, for their excessive drinking culture and their ridiculous initiations.
Alot of teen films in the late nineties and early noughties glorified frats and the exclusivity which comes with being a part of it. On the face of it looks a pretty good laugh, but there is a much darker side to them.
Some members take it way too far and some grisly initiations can ultimately end in tragedy. Here’s a few examples of these shocking hazing scandals which shook the U.S.
To prove that this isn’t just a recent phenomenon, we first go back to 1905. The case of Stuart Pierson was one of the first to hit the headlines when he was attempting to join Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) at Kenyon College. Like many, he wanted to follow in his fathers footsteps who had also been a member of DKE. His father, Newbold, wanted to join his initiation but was extremely late so Stuart worried for his father and didn’t sleep for days. His sleep deprivation followed him into the shocking events as they unfolded. He was taken into the forest by the frat and at 9.41pm he was struck by a train. It’s believed it was part of a hazing ritual and that he was tied to the tracks, however no evidence was ever found. No-one was charged and it’s widely believed he simply fell asleep on the tracks. We will probably never know what actually happened.
Joseph T. Green
A U.S. Navy veteran, Joseph passed away suddenly aged just 25. He attended Tennessee State University and decided to join the Omega Psi Phi (OPP) fraternity. Green was found collapsed after hazing and rushed to hospital where he died. After questioning frat members it became clear that he was forced to do extreme physical exercises in the middle of the day, told to run until they said stop. The extreme heat hand in hand with the O.T.T. exercise regime led Green to collapse from an acute asthma attack. When paramedics came to his aid he was 39.8 degrees celsius (103.7F). He died from hyperthermia after experiencing breathing difficulties and heart problems. No one was criminally charged, but his family filed a $15 million lawsuit and the OPP were suspended for five years.
This young mans’s death is considered to be one of the most brutal in all hazing history. The cruelty and brutality of his death shocked the world, as he was brutally murdered by his peers. Davis was in attendance at Southeast Missouri State University and was hoping to join Kappa Alpha Psi (KAP) back in 94′. As part of his initiation he was subject to senseless violence as he was kicked and punched over a long period of time by members. Once he finished his ordeal, Davis was taken back to his student apartment when he later died from massive internal injuries. After an investigation, seven members were charged with hazing and involuntary manslaughter. They all received short jail sentences and KAP was expelled for good. Davis’s family received a settlement of $1.4 million.
Like many tragic deaths at the hands of fraternity, drinking incredulous amounts of alcohol is at the forefront of it. None more so than the case of Chad Meredith. Attending the University of Miami after a high school basketball career he was hopeful of playing professionally. He decided to join Kappa Sigma fraternity. As a pledge, he had to drink until his BAC was twice the legal limit before jumping into a nearby lake. The other members also jumped in and swam further. As he followed, trying to keep up, he grew colder and tired from the ordeal. Too drunk and exhausted to carry on, he screamed for help. But no-one rescued him. Police found him hours later in the lake, and he died at just 18 years of age. In 2006, after a lengthy trial, a jury awarded Meredith’s family $14 million, the largest hazing settlement ever given. Governor Jeb Bush signed the Chad Meredith Act, which made hazing a felony offence.
Like the death of Chad Meredith, Matthew Carrington’s death could have been easily avoided if he had received help in time. Members of the Chi Tau fraternity, rather than acknowledge obvious signs of distress in Carrington, allowed him to die. Their rituals are so infamous at the time they were known as “Hell Week”, involving extreme physical exercise that pushed people to their limits and sadly, in this case, past it. In the basement of the frat house, Carrington was forced to jumping jacks and caslithenics whilst answering questions about the frat and was punished each time he got a question wrong by drinking water from a 5-gallon jug while a fan blew at him or doing push-ups. After drinking way too muck liquid he was put in a sleeping bag and they checked on him later to then realise he was no longer breathing. By the time help arrived, he as already dead. The cause of death was water intoxication. Those involved with Matthew’s death were charged with misdemeanours and felony manslaughter. After his death Chico Univeristy banned fraternities and in 2006 Matt’s Law was created for the charge of felony hazing.