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Deaths by Hazing

July 4, 2011

Hazing and bullying has been a problem not just within historically white men’s secret societies, clubs, gangs or fraternities, but also within women’s groups and within historically non-white organisations.   As the result of hazing numerous deaths and injuries have occurred, the problem of hazing with BGLOs has been extensively explored.  Similarly, despite explicit prohibition of hazing by the NALFO, hazing still occurs in these organisations, leading several chapters to be suspended.  It must also be said that certain colleges and universities have banned Greek letter organisations with the justification that they are by their very structure set up to be elitist and exclusionary.  Though saying that, despite previous bans or suspensions, it’s only a matter of time when they resurface again, and if anything, it’s far from the norm, for any kind of college or universities to not have some kind of involvement in some way or another with Greek letter fraternities. [2]

In the book: The Effects of Sorority and Fraternity Membership by DeSousa, Gordon & Kimbrough [2004] it describes how many undergraduates in BGLO’s want a return to organised hazing, considering it to represent an upholding of the true nature and traditions of those organisations.  They conclude that these organisations on the national level ‘should consider the issue of pledging to be a crisis, but they appear satisfied with their public nakedness on this issue’. Although hazing is outlawed in most states, “Some [people] contend that hazing continues for a number of social reasons that serve important team and/or brotherhood-sisterhood functions such as enhancing…cohesion”. [4]

The list of following deaths are as a direct result of ‘hazing’, though in my eyes, I’d argue some are blatant cases of murder and manslaughter at the very least.  The majority of these deaths are of white students, and not from BGLO’s, where I think around about 3 or 4 of the deaths were either African-American or Hispanic origin.

Hazing related deaths actually predate these, though I’ll start in 1959, the ‘pledges’ of Kappa Sigma were taking part in a hazing ritual that involved the young men to stand before a buffet table where a tray with raw liver was presented.  The pieces of liver, each about the size of a club sandwich, were soaked in oil.  Six pledges before Swanson were made to swallow the liver without chewing it.  Swanson attempted to swallow the liver three times without success.  As a result he choked to death. [5]

     In 1978 Chuck Stevens pledged the prestigious fraternity Klan Alpine at Alfred University in New York.  One February night, with temperatures around zero degrees, Stevens was awakened from his bed, stripped to his underwear, and given a pint of Jack Daniels, a six-pack of beer, and a bottle of wine to drink while locked in the trunk of a moving car.  When the trunk was opened, Stevens’ body was white as a sheet and he was dumped in a dorm room. The combination of massive amounts of alcohol and the frigid temperatures caused Stevens’ lungs to fill with fluid and killed him. [5]

     In 1989 the death of Joel A. Harris, died during an Alpha Phi Alpha hazing incident. Robert Willis, director for Alpha Phi Alpha, said the death occurred at a gathering in an apartment for 19 young men interested in joining the fraternity.  Mr. Willis said the students told him they met with about seven fraternity members and “…were pushed and shoved around, – next thing they knew, they looked around and the fellow was lying on the floor, – at first they thought he was faking it.”“When they realised he was not, they called emergency workers.”  Mr. Willis said the potential pledges told him that the fraternity members knew of Mr. Harris’s heart trouble. [6]

     In 1994 the beating to death of Michael Davis at Southeast Missouri State University uncovered a horrendous tradition of hazing at the school.  The pledges of Kappa Alpha Psi underwent two weeks of physical battery that culminated on a Valentine’s Day event of multiple beatings where fraternity members set up ‘stations,’ each of which issued physical and emotional abuse.  Davis was beaten so badly that he was left with broken ribs, a lacerated liver and kidney, multiple bruises all over his body, and the bleeding in his brain that killed him. “They took him into a room and five members of the fraternity attacked him. They punched and kicked him in head him”. – Is what Felicia Taylor, the former girlfriend of Davis said. [5]

     In 2002, Benjamin Klein was a member of the Zeta Beta Tau at Alfred University.  He had been speaking out about hazing practices within the fraternity when four fellow fraternity members bound him with duct tape and held him in a hotel room.  They beat him and kept him, still tied up, in the shower until he promised not to leave the room. The fraternity members were fearful he would get the fraternity into trouble over the hazing practices. Three days later, Klein’s bruised and cut body was found in a creek behind the fraternity house. Klein had killed himself with a ‘drug overdose’, forced fed the drugs more like, as this sounds more like a case of murder to me. [5]

    Also in 2002 the death of Joseph T. Green, died during an Omega Psi Phi initiation ritual; and the 2002 deaths of Kenitha Saafir and Kristin High, who died during an Alpha Kappa Alpha hazing ritual.

In 2003, at the State University of New York in March that same year, Walter Dean Jennings III was pledging Psi Epsilon Chi.  Jennings was involved in a hazing ritual that lasted ten days and included drinking numerous pitchers of water–sometimes through a funnel and often to the point of vomiting, his brain swelled, and he died from water intoxication.  21 students were involved in this hazing incident. [5]

      In 2005, Matthew Carrington was pledging the Chi Tau fraternity at California State University Chico. One February night and doused with gallons of cold water, he was also forced to drink it as well, while powerful fans blew cold air on him, he died of hypothermia and brain swelling from water intoxication. [5]

     In 2006 Tyler Cross, pledging Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Texas, “fell” from a fifth-story apartment.  The night Cross died he had been given large amounts of alcohol and was physically hazed. Reportedly, the pledges were beaten with bamboo. Other allegations include sleep deprivation and shocking with cattle prods. [5

     In 2010, during the month of October, and at St. Thomas University in Canada, 21-year-old Andrew Bartlett was found dead in his building’s stairwell after a weekend party with his volleyball teammates.  The death has been ruled an accident, but police have confirmed that alcohol was a factor in the events that led up to the fourth-year student’s fatal fall.  The university has now suspended the men’s volleyball team for the rest of the year after ‘hazing rituals’ were discovered at the same party Bartlett attended the night he died. [7]

     In 2011, Police are investigating the separate deaths of two college students over the weekend of 26th-27th February 2011, at Ithaca College, and Cornell University also in Ithaca, New York.  Cornell’s George Desdunes, 19, was found unresponsive in his Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house and died later that day.  According to the Cornell Daily Sun, alcohol may have been a factor in his death.  And at the Ithaca College Victoria Cheng, aged just 17, was discovered dead in the snow behind her off campus residence house.  The Cornell chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon has been temporarily suspended by the university following the death of Desdunes.  Jody Coombs, from the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department, said the investigation into the death of Cheng is still ongoing, though police say alcohol is believed to be a contributing factor in Cheng’s death, though investigators are not yet completely sure it played a role. Coombs said an autopsy was completed at Lourdes Hospital in Binghamton, N.Y., but there is no timetable for the release of results, – so at the time of writing this section, I don’t know the outcome of the reports into their deaths. [12]


     A number of student deaths in the late 1990’s and early 2000s resulted in considerable media attention to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT] culture and student life in general, and sounds more like Deepcut [army] Barracks than an education facility.  Following the alleged alcohol-related death of Scott Krueger in September 1997 as a new initiate of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, the MIT began requiring all freshmen to live in the dormitory system.  The year 2000 suicide of MIT undergraduate Elizabeth Shin, who set fire to herself in her dorm room, drew attention to suicides at the college, and created a controversy over whether MIT had an unusually high suicide rate.

     In 2001; The Boston Globe compared MIT’s suicide rate with that of other schools and concluded that it had a festering ‘culture of suicide’.

No wonder these Phi Gamma Delta or Alpha Epsilon Pi types, are prepared to churn out and regurgitate whatever is asked of them.  What I mean by that, is that most or if not all of those who worked on compiling the National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST] report for what was ‘meant’ to have happened on 9/11 in New York 2001, and to the WTC and Building 7, – attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT], or the Virginia Tech.

It calculated that MIT students were 38 percent more likely to commit suicide than Harvard students, and that MIT had a suicide rate almost three times the national average for undergraduates.  There have been over 50 suicides in the last 40 years, with 12 suicides since 1990 MIT has had to battle the reputation of being like a ‘pressure cooker’ environment. [8]

     The most latest grouped details I could come across on the subject of “hazing-bulling” outside the US, as this is a ‘worldwide’ problem and takes place all over the world, and not just a ‘collegiate fraternity thing’; – where in Indonesia, 35 people died during 1993 – 2007 as a result of hazing ‘initiation rites’ in the Institut Pemerintahan Dalam Negeri [IPDN], which is the Institute of Public Service, and whereas these kinds of initiates, the living ones that is, are ‘running’ the country’s infrastructure administration departments.

In Russia ‘hazing’ is known as ‘Dedovshchina’, though normally associate with the military, and by the time you’ve reached the public service sector you’re already traumatised and willing to turn a blind eye to almost anything.

One of many high-profile ‘dedovshchina-hazing’ attack’s, was of Andrei Sychyov who ended up having to have his legs and private parts amputated after he was forced to squat for three hours whilst being beaten and tortured by a group on New Year’s Eve 2005, [9] and highlights the widespread problem of ‘dedovshchina-hazing’ in the Russian armed forces, where extremely vicious forms of bullying including psychological abuse or even physical torture is common practice.

The New York Times reported that in 2006 at least 292 Russian soldiers were killed by dedovshchina [although the Russian military only admits that 16 soldiers were directly murdered by acts of dedovshchina and claims that the rest committed suicide].  The Times states: “On Aug. 4, it was announced by the chief military prosecutor that there had been 3,500 reports of abuse already this year [2006], compared with 2,798 in 2005”.  In 2007 reported that in 2007, 341 soldiers committed suicide. [10][11]

 Extract from Trapped in a Masonic World.

[1] “fraternity: Definition, Synonyms from” <;.

[2] “University of Dayton – Student Development.” <;.

[3] “DePauw University Office of Fraternity & Sorority Life.” <;.

[4] “The Relationship Between Hazing and Team Cohesion. <;.

[5] “Pledging Sucks: Top 10 Worst Hazing Scandals & Stories …” <;.

[6] “College Student Dies At Pledging Activity Held by <;.

[7] “St. Thomas University – – Macleans OnCampus.” <;.

[8] “Who Was Responsible For Elizabeth Shin? <;.

[9] “Armed Forces of the Philippines, in the international news …” <;.

[10] “Dedovshchina – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.” <;.

[11] ^ “Russia army suicides cause alarm”. BBC News Online. 29 May 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2009-01-24.


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Free 21 page sample of Trapped in a Masonic World;

© 2011 Copyright – David McCann.


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