BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Dangerous hazing: beaten, locked in basements, humiliated and almost killed. New reports WJZ’s news partner The Baltimore Sun obtained paint a dark picture of hazing rituals on Maryland college campuses.
WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren digs deeper into the accounts that some describe as torture—including a victim who says he’s lucky to be alive.
The partying, the drinking, the brotherhood. For thousands of college students, joining a fraternity or sorority is a rite of passage, but the journey there can be dangerous—even deadly.
The list of victims across the country is growing and includes the death of University of Maryland freshman Daniel Reardon in 2002.
WJZ’s news partner, the Baltimore Sun, uncovered dozens of new, never before reported cases of hazing on campuses across the state. Beatings, forced drinking, humiliation and a code of silence that kept many from coming to light.
“It was devastating,” said Brad, a senior at Towson University.
He went through what’s called “Hell Week” trying to pledge a fraternity his freshman year.
“The events that lasted less than two hours had me not able to walk out of the house,” he said.
He is still too shaken to say exactly what happened but records the Sun obtained reveal drinking rituals, sleep deprivation and mental and physical hazing. His breaking point happened walking into the library. He collapsed on the second floor and a fellow student called 911.
“The thing that comes to me right after that memory is waking up with my mother and a couple policemen at my bedside trying to figure out what happened,” he said.
He was in the hospital for days; Towson University suspended his fraternity.
Over the past decade, another case at Towson involved cheerleaders drinking and wearing adult diapers. At the University of Maryland College Park, students were forced to the floor in pools of their own vomit. At Salisbury University, students were forced to drink until they vomited blood.
The Baltimore Sun’s Carrie Wells found even more.
“A pledge was forced to punch a wooden board 64 times. He was told he had to keep going until he saw blood,” Wells said.
State Senator Jamie Raskin tells WJZ it’s unacceptable. Hazing in Maryland is just a misdemeanor with a $500 fine. He’s trying to increase that to $5,000.
“College is not an opportunity for them to inflict pain and suffering on fellow students. One of the students that I spoke to last year told me that what he had gone through was what he imagined it was like at Abu Ghraib, going through a kind of torture,” Raskin said.
“The idea that someone’s mental and physical state is at risk over people being scared to get in trouble, to me, doesn’t make sense,” Brad said.
After his ordeal, he still believed in the Greek system and formed a chapter of Theta Chi on campus. It is committed to never hazing pledges and has now become the largest fraternity at Towson and has been named Theta Chi’s national chapter of the year.
To see a list of hazing deaths, click here. To read the Sun’s hazing story, click here. Learn more about the hazing policies at the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins, Salisbury University and Towson. Click here to read Maryland’s anti-hazing law.
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