Sororities are all about sisterhood. After all, most sororities have their sisters all living within the same house, they have big sister/little sister assignments to form even stronger bonds between particular members, and they spend an insane amount of time together, between simply hanging around the house and working on the chapter’s events and fundraisers and similar activities. However, just because it seems all friendly sunshine and daisies doesn’t mean it actually is. Before an individual is granted access into that immediate sisterhood and feeling of belonging, they have to pledge to the sorority — and that can involve a lot of stuff.
There are some people who swear up and down that hazing is absolutely not an issue, that it’s not something that happened in their sorority and they just don’t see what all the fuss is about. And then, there are all the hazing stories that come out of the woodwork, particularly now that we have online media to pick up on smaller stories. There are women stepping forward saying that they were physically beaten, emotionally tormented, and violated in many different ways, all as part of the rushing process to ensure they were a good fit for the sorority — and it’s majorly not okay.
Here are 15 of the most disturbing sorority hazing stories — they may just make you think twice about ever joining a sorority.
15. Alcohol Overload
Consuming alcohol itself isn’t necessarily a shocking thing — sure, most sorority pledges in the United States at least are underage and not legally allowed to drink, but it’s common enough that it isn’t a big deal. Where things get a little more disturbing is when pledges are forced to drink way, way too much. Ravital Segal, a woman pledging Dartmouth back in 2012, stepped forward to speak about her hazing experience — namely, that she was forced to chug a 64 ounce bottle of alcoholic punch (that’s a ton of liquid, and though she didn’t specify the strength of the punch, we’re betting it was really strong). As a result, she ended up blacking out and waking up the next day in the hospital. Yikes! That’s not exactly the best way to bond with your new pledge.
14. Washing machine humiliation
Some of the female pledges at Young Harris College, a small spot in rural Georgia, stepped forward when hazing got too disturbing to handle. Pledges were forced to run across campus in their underwear, stand in a pool of water with human waste in it, and perhaps worst for their self-esteem, they were forced to sit naked on a washing machine while their sorority sisters circled and marked any spots that jiggled. The physical abuses in hazing are terrible enough, but something like that could have crazy repercussions for years to come, and even yield to serious issues like eating disorders. We just can’t understand who would think that was a good idea — although, at least those particular pledges decided to join forces and come forward about what they were experiencing.
13. Countless pledges, one toilet
Okay, this example proves just how bizarre hazing is. A woman by the name of Tess Koman penned a piece for Cosmopolitan about what it was like to pledge Sigma Delta Tau at Union College, and she went into the nitty gritty of the hazing rituals. The most terrifying was that she and her sisters would be locked in a basement for hours on end, with only one toilet to use amongst all of them, and their sisters would periodically pop in and ask them random questions, screaming at them if they got the answer wrong — although there weren’t really any right answers. Koman even admitted that the experience was traumatic. However, while you might expect the piece to have finished with Koman saying she regretted pledging and didn’t end up joining, it’s quite the opposite — she said that hazing made her experience “weirdly worth it,” which is pretty messed up.
12. A painful sort of gift
You may assume that sorority sisters gifting pledges accessories or small tokens with their sorority name and symbols on it would be kind of normal. After all, you want them to be able to strut around campus rocking their Greek attire, right? Well, the sorority pledges in a particular chapter did, indeed, get some accessories as a gift — but it was a whole lot more painful than you would imagine. An anonymous sister confessed on a message board that her sisters gave the pledges in their sorority ‘new earrings’ by literally stapling their earlobes. That’s right — using a stapler on human skin. We can’t even begin to imagine how painful that must have been. And honestly, what on earth is the point except inflicting immense physical torment? Or is that just the whole point?
11. Failed fundraisers lose their locks
It’s not uncommon for sororities to raise money for a variety of causes, from their own chapter to a charity they support. And incorporating fundraising into the pledge process seems like a fantastic idea — you’re supporting a good cause, after all. However, this particular sorority had some pretty awful consequences for the poor pledge who just wasn’t able to raise quite enough. A sister confessed on another message board that the pledges rushing a sorority were made to organize a fundraiser for their chapter, which seems innocent enough — but the pledge who ended up raising the least money was forced to shave her head. Now, there are some women who rock the shaved head look and look totally fierce — but it should always, always be a choice. Can you imagine the poor sister who ended up $5 short and forced to shave off her gorgeous locks?
10. Concrete Nightmare
This is one of those hazing practices that seems innocent enough at first, but becomes increasingly horrifying as you hear more about it. A sorority girl by the name of Joanne pledging at Penn State Altoona ended up coming forward to the news in 2008 because of a hazing ritual that involved the pledge standing and facing a concrete wall. Compared to some of the other horrifying hazing stories, that doesn’t seem so bad, right? Well, except for the fact that if the pledges wavered or moved even the slightest bit, they were slammed face first into the wall. Not only is that horrifically brutal, but the face is a really delicate part of your body — who knows which of those pledges could have seriously harmed their face, or even gotten long-term brain damage from hitting the hard wall in just the wrong way.
9. Trivia and terror
Okay, if you’re fascinated by sororities and Greek life in general, you absolutely need to read Alexandra Robbins’ Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities, which details her journey as she went undercover to pen an insane expose on sorority life. One of the stories she tells particular stands out because of how awful it was. Robbins talks about the hazing experience a sister named Arika detailed to her, which involved answering trivia questions and taking a shot of straight vodka whenever they got it wrong. Dangerous if you’re worried about binge drinking, but drinking games are something that lots of regular college students do, right? Well, it gets worse — if the pledges were wrong too many times, they wouldn’t just be forced to take more shots — they’d have to choose which of four objects they wanted to be violated with. Insane!
8. Controlling another woman’s body is never okay
Okay, the sorority girl in question here obviously wasn’t bothered by this particular hazing ritual, as the end of her confession proves. However, can we just say — this is majorly messed up. No one should have the right to control another person’s body. I mean, just think of the recent story where actor Ian Somerhalder admitted to tossing his wife Nikki Reed’s birth control pills in the toilet once they decided to have a baby? On the one hand, they had made the decision to start trying together. However, literally every woman was outraged because you just don’t do that. Ever. No one has the right to control another person’s body and cycle and things like that, not even their sorority sisters. Give it a few months, the cycles will probably end up syncing up anyway without having to dose your body with toxic chemicals in the form of Plan B.
7. Body insecurity bonanza
Perhaps one of the most scary parts of hazing is that, after hearing about hazing situations where the girls ended up in the hospital, things that are just plain old emotionally traumatizing almost seem not so bad — which is super messed up! In her juicy book, Alexandra Robbins talks about a hazing ritual she saw during her time undercover in which pledges were marched into a chilly room and told to strip down to a topless state. Then, they were supposed to sort themselves according to breast size, while their future ‘sisters’ critiqued them. Women have so many insecurities as it is, and so many compare themselves to others even on their best days — this is just wrong on so many levels. We wouldn’t be surprised if at least half the women involved in this particular hazing ritual developed body image issues in the years afterwards.
6. Interrogation tactics
This is yet another hazing situation where it becomes obvious that it’s not just the insane physical hazing rituals that can be damaging — sometimes, the stuff designed to mess with a pledge’s mental state is even worse than just getting paddled. Two pledges rushing at Medgar Evers College, Shawntee Caton and Gabby Jones, discussed a hazing ritual where they were blindfolded, taken to a basement, and forced to sit there for a long, long time — as in, around 10 hours — being endlessly drilled with intimate questions about their personal lives and R-rated activities they engaged in. It wasn’t a conversation between sisters, or an attempt to get to know them better — it was a straight up interrogation, and that’s not okay. In this case, the pledges’ mothers actually stepped in and expressed their anger at the situation.
5. Human trash can trouble
Back in 2012, a pledge named Britteny Starling experienced such horrendous hazing that she actually ended up suing the sorority that hazed her — and even leaving the school altogether because of how traumatic the experience was. What exactly was she put through? Well, her hazing involved becoming a literal trash can — cleaning up the floor using her back as a cleaning implement, and taking garbage from her sisters and carrying it around in her pockets for goodness knows how long. She was also tortured by being forced to stay awake all night without being able to use the bathroom (which is just a recipe for a serious bladder issue), and was physically harmed when her legs gave out after being forced to stand for hours on end without a break. Yikes!
4. Arrested for assault
Physical abuse as part of a hazing ritual is never okay — yet it happens time and time again. A sorority pledge by the name of Jasmine Johnson stepped forward in 2009 after her hazing had her in the hospital. She talks about what happened, saying that she had ice cold water poured on her head, as well as vinegar squirted in her eyes — oh, and she was punched in the face at the same time. She also mentioned she had eggs smashed on different parts of her body, and was punched in other places as well, all of which led to a concussion and bleeding in her intimate area. Her sorority sister ended up being charged with assault because… that is literally the definition of assault. There is no world in which punching someone repeatedly, to the point where the require hospitalization, is okay. That’s not hazing — that’s assault.
3. So much money, they throw it away
It’s no secret that sororities can be expensive, at times — between the cost to attend and get dressed up for certain events to the annual dues, everything adds up. And, it can’t be ignored that sorority sisters have to come from at least a reasonable place of privilege — they need to be able to come up with all that dough in addition to their regular tuition costs. However, St. Anthony’s, a small, secret society sorority at Columbia, is only looking for the super, stupid rich to join its ranks. How do they get proof of that? As their hazing ritual, they make the female pledges buy a necklace from Tiffany’s (where the necklaces certainly do not come cheap) and throw it in the river. Sure, this hazing ritual won’t send anyone to the hospital, but it’s pretty awful nonetheless — why not just donate the money to charity if they just want their pledges to part with some cash?
2. A way, way too intimate thing to get pledges to do
There are countless hazing rituals that involve some sort of undressing, although most are more playful — requiring pledges to do something like run around the sorority house in their underwear or something similar. That’s still awful, because no one should be forced to expose their body if they don’t want to, but it’s nothing like what this poor sorority girl experienced. The dancing is humiliating enough, but to get involved in a potential sister’s intimate life in that way is just majorly over the line. She doesn’t mention whether or not she decided to join the sorority, but after that hazing experience, we’re hoping she didn’t — after all, why would you want to be around ‘sisters’ who did something so terrible to you as an initiation ritual? It’s just an awful thing to do to someone.
1. We’re really, really hoping this pledge took her hazing trauma to the authorities
We are truly, truly hoping that this particular sorority girl went to the authorities after this ‘hazing’ incident, because it is wrong on so many levels. Hazing that involves any type of intimate component is awful to begin with, because no one should dictate how someone else wants to use their body, even if it’s just something like exposing their private areas. However, though she doesn’t go into detail, the hazing ritual this poor girl was forced to participate in was without doubt way, way too intimate — and took something really important from her, and likely traumatized her for a long time. It’s easy to say that these girls should just walk out the minute uncomfortable hazing starts happening, but sometimes it’s not that simple — and unfortunately, many sororities don’t face the consequences of their actions.
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