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College Horror Stories: The Dangers of Hazing

It is not worth it. Period.

Source: Pixabay

My college experience was bland, to say the least. For several years, everyday single day, I made an undeviating habit of commuting to campus, going to class, doing what I had to do, then heading home. I deeply regret having spent so little time on campus, wishing I would have explored more than I did. I deeply regret having spent so little time interacting with my fellow students, wishing I would have joined a club or stepped out of my comfort zone. However, one thing I do not regret is avoiding fraternities.

There are often two polarizing depictions of frats (and sororities) in movies. They either form scars for life or they form bonds for life. The more ‘light-hearted’ college stories lack the very thing that make the arguably ‘realistic’ stories more horrific: hazing. Hazing is defined as “humiliating and sometimes dangerous initiation rituals, especially as imposed on college students seeking membership to a fraternity or sorority.” You may of heard of a local hazing tale or one from the next town over, but here a few more pages to add to your gossip book.

Trevor Duffy

Vodka, Smirnoff, Spirit, Diageo, Drink, Alcohol
Source: Pixabay

Duffy, 19, died of alcohol poisoning two days after a pledging ritual in which he was to consume a 60-ounce bottle of Belvedere vodka. He had a blood alcohol level of 0.58. The ZBT chapter lost its recognition in the fall of 1997, but continued to operate underground. In 2011, the national fraternity Zeta Beta Tau formed a new chapter at Albany with the underground fraternity continuing to use the same name. The recognized ZBT chapter on University of Albany’s campus was not involved in the incident.

Ryan Abele

Architecture, Indoors, Perspective, Staircase, Stairs
Source: Pixabay

On October 16, 2016, Abele, 18, was a freshman pledge when he was woken up with the rest of his pledge class at 5:45AM following a party. Abele was ordered “to get the fuck down the stairs” where he slipped and fell, rupturing the main artery to his brain. Upon arrival at the hospital at 7:00AM his BAC was found to be 0.30. Abele passed away the following week.

Tim Piazza

Brain, Anatomy, Human, Science, Health, Medical, Organ
Source: Pixabay

Piazza, a 19-year-old pledge of the fraternity, died two days after falling down the stairs while intoxicated. He suffered a collapsed lung, ruptured spleen, and non-recoverable brain injury following the fall. Paramedics were not summoned for nearly 12 hours. Piazza is estimated to have had a BAC of nearly 0.40 on the night of the fall. In May 2017, following a grand jury investigation, eighteen members of the fraternity were charged in connection with the death: eight were charged with involuntary manslaughter and the rest with other offenses, including hazing.

Maxwell Gruver

Bible, Church, Wedding, Christian, Catholic, Worship
Source: Pixabay

Max Gruver, an 18-year old pledge from Roswell, Georgia, was taken to the hospital after an alleged drinking game hazing ritual known as “Bible Study.” He was pronounced dead the same day. The cause of death was stated as being from “acute alcohol intoxication with aspiration.” He had a blood-alcohol reading of 0.495 grams per 100ml of blood — equivalent to consuming 24 standard shots.

Andrew Coffey

Whiskey, Bar, Alcohol, Glass, Scotch, Drink, Bourbon
Source: Pixabay

Coffey, a 20-year old pledge from Pompano Beach, Florida was discovered unresponsive Friday, November 3, after a house party occurred the previous night. It was determined that Coffey died of alcohol poisoning after drinking an entire bottle of bourbon. The coroner estimates that his blood alcohol level was 0.558 at the time of death.


Hazing is not a joke. It is borderline torture and can get people killed all because some punk college kids enjoy feeling powerful for a night. Is joining Phi Sigma Whatever really so important that you are willing to literally gamble your life? No. No it is not. It is not worth it for you and it is not worth it for your families. The very same families that now need to bury their children whose lives ended before they even truly began.

With the death of Max Gruver, a new lawsuit from July of this year says that universities should be blamed for fraternity hazing fatalities. This is definitely a step in the right direction, but we should not stop there. In June 2019, congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio) and congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Pa.) introduced an anti-hazing law that aims to “eradicate hazing on college campuses.” The bill would require colleges to track and report hazing incidents and punishment doled out by the school. Although it is an ambitious goal, it may be too ambitious. I hate to admit it, but I am not confident that a single law would solve this huge issue. What could help is educating students to avoid these situations altogether, even before entering college. Perhaps if young minds learned about hazing in school, rather than movies, less people would be willing to participate in these life-threatening situations.

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