The story sounds like something out of a coming of age college flick: desperate to pledge, students are deprived of sleep, closed into a small, urine-soaked wooden box, and forced to eat their own vomit. All in the name of becoming part of a popular fraternity on campus.
Unfortunately, for a hand full of University of Alberta students, this was allegedly the reality of completing the four-day initiation process to the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. The alleged hazing went beyond an embarrassing experience for these students. It compromised their safety and well being, and begs the question of whether or not the fraternity system needs to undergo some serious changes.
Related: No one wins in campus hazing rituals
Video footage obtained by student newspaper The Gateway, shows the grueling initiation process pledges of the Delta Kappa Epsilon went through in hopes of becoming part of the fraternity in January 2010.
One of the videos shows what one pledge was subjected to after accidently buying two small cans of beans instead of the one large can the members wanted: “Do you have a problem following instructions? Because if you do, your life is going to become extremely difficult . . . Do you have a learning disability? Are you retarded?”
The videos progressively get more and more bizarre, according to the Gateway:
“The video also shows the pledges being told to do wall sits, being pressured into taking a bite out of a raw onion, and being pressured into eating raw eggs, to which one brother says, ‘go salmonella.’
Video footage also shows pledges attending an off-campus dinner, where they eat food that is intentionally disgusting and then smoke a cigar as quickly as possible after eating.”
An anonymous source referred to simply as “Joe” in the article explained that after doing this, some pledges get sick and vomit, and are expected to eat it to clear their plates. Joe goes on to describe another hazing method referred to as “the Hilton,” a small wooden box pledges are forced to go into several times during initiation for 15 minutes at a time, which is sometimes covered in ketchup or urinated on beforehand.
This is not first time the DKE fraternity has been in hot water. The Yale chapter of the prestigious fraternity, that lists George W. Bush as alumni, came under fire recently after fraternity pledges were heard shouting offensive obscenities at women while marching through the campus. A Youtube video surfaced just days before the Gateway story was published showing students shouting chants such as “My name is Jack, I’m a necrophiliac, I (expletive) dead women,” and “no means yes; yes means anal.” Two cases of sexual assault were also reported in late September at two separate fraternity houses at the University of Minnesota including at a Delta Kappa Epsilon house.
Since the Gateway story was originally released, the U of A has launched an investigation into the allegations, with joint investigations being conducted by the fraternity’s international headquarters and alumni group. More stories also surfaced about the alleged hazing rituals.
While the story is obviously a rare example of a fraternity gone wrong, it is kind of spooky to think that something so alarming could be going on right underneath the noses of a university community. The allegations of hazing at the DKE fraternity at the U of A have done more than just enforce a negative stereotype. As with the cases at Yale and the University of Minnesota, they have brought the whole Greek system into question.
These cases involve more than just an embarrassing prank. They involve the safety and well-being of students.
I agree with Gateway editor in chief Jonn Kmech, who stated that fraternities and sororities are not the problem here, and that the rest of the U of A fraternity and sorority system needs to speak out against these practises in an editorial published shortly after the original article. However, I think that in light of these allegations, these fraternities and sororities need to do more than just openly condemning such actions.
They need to make a conscious effort to prevent such actions from happening again, and demonstrate to the public how they’re doing so. You can condemn an action all you want, but it doesn’t stop it happening over and over again.
The DKE International Risk Management Policy boldly states that the DKE will not condone hazing in any way, along with the acts of sexual abuse and harassment, and use of illegal drugs in their fraternities. Yet it is unclear what methods of accountability DKE has for its fraternities who don’t follow this policy. If it’s unclear in the policy itself, then it’s probably unclear to the several chapters as well what consequences will befall them if they don’t follow it, if any at all.