A scandalous, and weird, story and pictures are coming out of Hofstra right now about their Sigma Pi chapter and hazing. It’s… not great. The pictures are about as inflammatory as possible. They’re an anti-Greek life advocate’s wet dream, in fact. I’m just going to throw in the pictures and the interesting details of the story in here and comment as I go. Any emphasis added is my own.
Let’s start with the pictures:
Jesus Christ this is like a Rolling Stone cover. Why… WHY is there a duct tape swastika? Also why is this picture framed up so well? If you threw all the other details of this story out, and showed me this picture, I’d tell you it’s fake. That it was “too perfect.” My guess, however, is that no, the members of Sigma Pi are not Nazis or white supremacists. (If they are, fuck them, but they’re probably not.) More likely some idiot just put that on the wall because these kids are clearly morons. Don’t believe me? They took pictures of this shit. That’s all the evidence I need. Which brings us to picture number two…
Look at ALL THE FUCKING PHONES THAT ARE OUT! What. the. hell? There are at least three phones taking pictures at that exact moment. These kids are falling over each other to take graphic pictures of hazing. There are no words.
The punishment for pulling your phone out during hazing should be that you have to join the pledges.
But really, here’s another picture. To the trained eye it doesn’t really look like anything bad is happening here. Just kids laying on the floor covered in flour, doing some sort of exercise. Does it look fun? No. But bad? Eh. Of course to the much more prevalent untrained eye this looks like a North Korean gulag.
Now onto the story from The Hofstra Chronicle:
Photo and video evidence allegedly depicting rituals of the Fall 2014 and Fall 2015 pledge processes for the Sigma Pi fraternity at Hofstra University show pledging members were made to chug milk and vomit on one another, stay locked in a small cage and kneel blindfolded while their bodies were covered in hot sauce, among other hazing rituals performed at an off-campus residence.
The Grand Council of Sigma Pi Fraternity International revoked the charter for Hofstra’s Eta-Gamma chapter of the organization effective March 1, 2016, according to a letter dated March 2.
1. Assuming this is true, I never understand why anyone thinks this is funny or even something they would want to see. Two pledges barfing on each other? If someone found you alone on your laptop watching two 18 year old guys puking on each other, they’d be like, “What in the actual fuck, dude?” In person is worse.
A former student and member of Sigma Pi’s Spring 2015 Beta-Alpha class, Syed Ali John Mehdi, sent an email to national Sigma Pi Executive Director Jason Walker, and Director of Business Operations Jen Wyatt on March 1, according to a record of the transaction. Included in the email is a brief description of the “extreme hazing” Mehdi claimed he faced, as well as several photos and videos depicting certain rituals.
The charter was revoked the next day; however, Walker did not confirm that he received this correspondence or that this was the reason for the decision of the Grand Council. “I’m unaware, I’m not sure about any email,” Walker said. “I don’t recall receiving any email on that day about that stuff.”
The University issued a statement to The Chronicle that read, in part, “In March 2016, the university received notice that the Grand Council of Sigma Pi Fraternity International revoked the charter of the Eta-Gamma Chapter at Hofstra University for unspecified violations. As a result, the University immediately suspended the chapter, and requested more information from the Grand Council, which declined to provide any additional information. The university also made inquiries of several members of the chapter about the revocation. None provided any information or raised concerns about new member education. Prior to the suspension, there were no complaints of hazing against the organization in recent years.”
1. “Doesn’t look like anything to me.”
2. I have no idea what to make of this. Usually nationals is pretty quick to sell out offenders.
3. I’m going to go ahead and guess there were no complaints of hazing because most of this hazing looks way worse than it actually is. Blindfolds? Covered in flour? THE HUMANITY! A dog cage seems like it would be horrifying and demeaning, but when the actives are standing around and giggling like idiots, a lot of the terror is drained from a situation. You realize it’s just a dumb joke. Based on the picture, most likely the pledges were put in there, never at any point in any danger, and thinking, “Haha yeah I’m in a cage for dogs, laugh it up,” as actives laughed and maybe poured beer on them or something. It’s not like they were left in the cage, in the dark, overnight, freezing, wet and, naked. The opening of “Zero Dark Thirty” this is not. I’m not saying it’s enjoyable, or even comfortable, I’m just saying people are going to look at it like it’s Abu Ghraib, and it’s a lot closer to something an MLB team would make a rookie do.
Some of the other accusations, specifically the pledges barfing on each other and the hot sauce on the balls, are either incredibly new developments in the Hofstra Sigma Pi pledge process (very possible) or not true, hence the lack of complaints. Personally I can’t imagine they’ve been throwing Tabasco on young scrotums for years with impunity. My dick and balls were definitely a no fly zone during pledgeship. No way I would’ve let anyone down there. Then again, I probably also wouldn’t have made a formal complaint. I would have been more like, “Enjoy your weird spicy groins, you sickos,” and moved on. That said, I have to imagine at some point someone would have reported something like that.
“We had this thing called ‘Hell Night.’ They’d throw hot sauce all over our body and we’d have to sit there for hours all throughout the night,” Mehdi said.
He claimed the hazing brothers used ghost pepper sauce and this was the most painful act pledges had to endure. Mehdi said the brothers would put the hot sauce on the pledges’ genitals as well.
GroupMe messages obtained by The Chronicle appear to show an initiated brother reference this on March 17, 2015, when Mehdi’s class was still going through the pledge process. This brother wrote in a chat appearing to include the 12 members of Mehdi’s class and an executive board member, “If you say anything to me I will make sure your balls feel the wrath of satan himself.”
In the context of the conversation, it is unclear if the threat was real or what the brother’s intentions were. However, Mehdi said this ritual was a regular occurrence throughout the pledge process.
2. I was actually surprised at the Hofstra Chronicle’s restraint here. Not just outright saying, “THIS IS PROOF OF EVERYTHING!”
3. Hot sauce on the balls was a regular occurrence during pledgeship? No way 12 kids were putting up with having their balls soaked in ghost pepper sauce once a month. Maybe it happened. I doubt it happened regularly. Absolutely nobody is going to regularly go through that type of shit to join a fraternity that has a 12 man pledge class.
The Chronicle reached out to many students and alumni who were members of Sigma Pi during the semesters in question, but received few responses. One initiated brother – who is still a Hofstra student – spoke to The Chronicle under the condition of anonymity.
The student explained from their end, they had little knowledge of why Sigma Pi’s charter was revoked. “All that happened on our end was our organization took away our charter and we were given little to no explanation,” the initiated brother said.
When shown the photo evidence included in the email, the source said they would “rather not” comment. When asked if what was depicted in the photos was part of the process to become a member of the organization, they said, “No, we didn’t have a pledge process.”
1. I mean that’s just not true.
Mehdi openly disclosed that he sent this information to the national organization after being barred from Greek life at Hofstra. He was then expelled from the University after being found responsible of “Sexual Assault_Non-Consensual Sexual Contact” by the Administrative Conduct Board after he allegedly “engaged in sexual touching of the complainant in this matter by pushing [his] groin against her buttocks while dancing, without her affirmative consent,” according to a letter Mehdi received from the Dean of Students Office.
Despite his expulsion and turbulent history within the university, The Chronicle determined, both through Mehdi’s testimony and internal review, that the individuals in the photos do appear to be individuals who went through Sigma Pi’s pledge process in the alleged semesters.
However the identities of the victims have not been confirmed by themselves or anyone else who was in the fraternity besides Mehdi.
1. Well THAT is all very interesting information. Barred from Greek life and then expelled for sexual assault? And finally after all of that you release your information to Sigma Pi and the press? What timing! Except…
2. He got expelled from Hofstra for grinding on a girl without her consent? Like on a dance floor or what? How do you get expelled for that? That’s insane. There has to be more to that story. That’s creepy, yes. But worthy of expulsion? No counseling? No classes? Again, there has to be more to that story.*
The email Mehdi sent to Sigma Pi’s national organization also contained three videos all allegedly depicting students chugging gallons of milk and forcing themselves to vomit on one another in the basement of an off-campus residence.
Some members can be easily identified in the roughly 10 second long videos – one wearing a Sigma Pi shirt.
Further analysis of group messages allegedly sent during Mehdi’s pledging process in the spring of 2015 portray a culture of servitude instilled in pledges.
Brothers who had already been initiated asked for favors from those pledging that usually included doing laundry, cleaning or getting food. Pledges appear to have been awarded merits for successfully performing tasks, and demerits for failing to do so.
1. A lot of the details of this story are sketchy. The whistleblower is clearly sketchy AF. But between the pictures and this line, I’m still operating under the assumption that these allegations are mostly true.
2. This means nothing to me. Pledges do chores and favors for actives. So what? I see zero problem with this, and I don’t understand how anyone could, assuming the chores and favors are relatively within reason (as in, don’t send them to rob a liquor store). You trade one semester of being a gofer for seven to nine semesters of having them. In the end the pledges come out well ahead. It’s worth it.
Someone appearing to be the vice president of Sigma Pi at the time, wrote on March 20, “Hey I need someone to step up and pick up my girlfriend from her room at 7:30 and bring her to my house, who can do that?”
After a pledge replied “I don’t have a car,” the brother responded, “I promise whoever does it i wont harm at all tonight.”
The same initiated brother, who appeared to go by the nickname “Butt plug” also wrote lyrics for a chant pledges were supposed to learn. On Feb. 25 he wrote, “I dont know what ive been told” […] “Butt plugs gonna rock our souls” […] “And when he does it will feel right” […] “Butt plugs not our friend tonight.”
1. Ha. There was a guy named Butt Plug. Classic.
2. Butt Plug had a girlfriend????
Mehdi outlined a host of other accusations of hazing that The Chronicle has not been able to independently verify.
“When we get initiated – actually when we get into the brotherhood, everyone in your tree has to paddle you. They try to get alumni to come back so we can get paddled by every single person,” he said.
He also said pledges were made to do planks on their elbows while bottle caps were placed between their elbows and the floor.
1. Uhhh did I miss the part where you independently verified the hot sauce on the balls thing? Can I please ask how? I am indescribably curious.
3. To give some perspective on the dog cage, I’d rather crawl into a dog cage and have people point and laugh at me than do the bottle cap thing.
There’s probably more to this story than we’re seeing here. There are some sketchy details that are hard to believe and, as I said, there are serious problems with the whistle blower, who is the Hofstra Chronicle’s only source. Still, this doesn’t look or sound too good..
*A reader emailed with some more insight into Sigma Pi whistleblower Syed Ali John Mehdi’s sexual assault history at Hofstra that might explain why he was expelled for that specific instance.
The kid cited as a source in the article was kicked out of Sigma Pi because multiple girls on campus accused him of sexual assault.
He eventually was charged with 1 count of assault which is mentioned and he was expelled.
Some of my friends are close friends with one of the sources victims, which is another reason I felt obligated to try and bring light to why this is nonsense.
Clearly the assault he was expelled for was the last straw with the school. Yeah this kid sucks.
To see a video of the Hofstra Sigma Pi pledges puking milk all over each other, click here
[via The Hofstra Chronicle]
Photos via The Hofstra Chronicle