uconn-huskies-logoSigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and sister sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma were both banned from the University of Connecticut campus earlier this month.

UConn sophomore and Kappa Kappa Gamma member Hillary Holt says she and others were taken to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon  fraternity house on March 6 and forced to commit humiliating acts, including being told to lie on the floor and pretend to “sizzle like bacon.”   She said she was then pressured to drink alcohol to the point of passing out. Holt later woke up in a hospital with a blood-alcohol-level nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08.  Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority was suspended and banned from campus until May of 2018 on May 7th.

On May 15th, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity was also booted of campus for five years because of a series of  hazing violations which included involvement in the for mentioned incident.  According to a Time’s article about the Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the fraternity is no stranger to hazing troubles.  As a matter of fact, they are somewhat veterans when it comes to such violations. “Between October 2000 and October 2010 SAE was sanctioned six different times by UConn, two of the cases involved excessive drinking that required medical treatment.”

At least 10 SAE members have died in hazing, alcohol or drug incidents at SAE events since 2006—more than any other fraternity in the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.  There have been over 60 fraternity-related deaths throughout the country since 2005.  Many of the victims were freshman pledges, the fraternity members most vulnerable to peer pressure in their first year at college.

Additionally, according to Fox News

SAE was also placed on probation in 2004 for reported theft of some snacks from a local convenience store; warned in 2007 for damage caused to a university meeting room and placed on probation in 2010 after it was determined that several members riding on its homecoming float were intoxicated and one of them had urinated on another organization’s float.

Last month Delta Zeta, Delta Gamma and Sigma Chi were temporarily suspended pending investigation for allegedly violating the university’s anti-hazing rules, with excessive drinking and over the top humiliation tactics, that included forcing men to also wear thongs and eat doggie treats.

Greek organizations are as much a part of the college experience as homecoming, roommates and dormitories. These organizations often become extended families for members leading to lasting bonds and friendships even after graduation as well as serve as a great professional networks. Unfortunately, the tradition of hazing, which has been around for centuries shines a dim light and can taint the names of greek organizations and universities, many of which have been around for the same amount of time as the practice of hazing.

According to a paper, The History of Hazing in American Higher Education, written by Ruth Sternerof Oregon University.

The origins of hazing can be traced back to the founding of Plato’s academy in 387 B.C..  Hazing incidents, which at the time were known as pennalism, became increasingly well documented in the Middle Ages as the prevalence of these incidents caused increasing problems for educators at all levels.  Students of the time considered hazing to be a natural way to teach newcomers precedence…The newcomer to the university was an untutored, uncivilized…had first to be polished before… becoming a regular member of the university…or tasting the sweets of a student’s life…and should suffer hardships…including physical abuse, subjection to course jokes and general humiliation; the later often taking the form of being forced to wear inappropriate clothes.

Fast forward to this century, most schools have adopted anti- hazing policies to protect students from serious injuries and death. Unfortunately, peer pressure too often wins the battle over common sense and safety.  We are all for good fun and even tradition. Your college experience in most cases is one you will forever treasure. You should enjoy it, but enjoyment should not end in a hospital bed or the morgue.

UConn has its hands full with its ongoing hazing drama and as a result the university is receiving quite a bit of bad press.  Current members of the organization will not be able to participate in on campus greek activities and the banned organizations will miss out on recruiting new freshmen for the years they are not allowed on campus. There are no winners here.  Note, this type of extreme and dangerous type of initiation is not practiced by all greek organizations. However, one such incident is too many.