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Is Greek Life Worth It?

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The death of Pennsylvania State fraternity brother Timothy Piazza has shed light on the often horrific results of fraternity and sorority hazing. After Piazza and 13 others accepted pledge bids, the Beta Theta Pi fraternity stocked their house with $1,179.30 worth of vodka, beer, Four Loko and wine for the initiation ceremony. The pledges were then pressured to chug vodka and shotgun beers. Later that night, Piazza fell down 15 feet of stairs face first. Four of his fraternity brothers carried his limp body upstairs and onto the couch where he remained all night and into the next morning while his brothers splashed water on him and slapped his face in attempt to wake him up. One brother encouraged calling 911, but was shoved against the wall by two other brothers claiming Piazza was fine. While passed out and bleeding internally on the couch, two brothers fell on top of him. Another brother filmed Piazza and posted it on snapchat. At approximately 1 am, the brothers observed him throwing up and twitching on the couch. It was not until approximately 10 am that two brothers found Piazza laying behind a bar, having fallen down another set of stairs to get there. Finally, a brother calls 911 reporting that one of his fraternity brothers is passed out, failing to mention his fall the night before. 18 of the members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity have been charged with the death of Piazza.

Unfortunately, this incident is not the first of its kind. Sororities and fraternities across the country have been scrutinized for their harsh, and often dangerous hazing rituals.

In 2016, Ravital Segal spoke out about her sorority hazing horror. The Dartmouth student was blindfolded and thrown into the back of a car where she was forced to drink 64 ounces of spiked punch. Dangerously intoxicated and blindfolded, Segal was pushed out of the moving car and suffered from broken teeth, bruises, and fractured ribs. The next morning, Segal woke up in the Intensive Care Unit at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, discovering that her blood alcohol was only .001 away from a coma or death.

In 2010, on a Kappa Sigma ski trip, a drunk pledge allowed his brothers to brand him with the Kappa Sigma letters. When the pledge passed out due to extreme alcohol consumption and third degree burns, his brothers continued branding him. The result was third degree burns all over his body and 6 surgeries to repair the damage to his body.

Hazing isn’t just a new fad. Fraternity and sorority chapters have been practicing these hazing rituals since the early 1900’s. In 1937, Richard Terrell Swanson of the University of Southern California died during a hazing ritual. The fraternity brothers at Kappa Sigma forced Terrell and the other pledges to swallow pieces of raw liver. The pieces of liver, which were about 12 inches long, had to be swallowed entirely by the pledges. While some of the pledges were able to swallow the liver, Terrell began to choke and eventually died when his brothers refused to help him.

While Greek life is often glorified for its ability to create friendships and promote community service, the initiation and hazing processes in these organizations shed light on their more gruesome tendencies. This fosters the question: Is is worth it?

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