At Monmouth College in New Jersey, members ordered five pledges to dig 6-foot “graves” on a sandy beach on the Atlantic Ocean.  The five then lay down in the graves while members threw handfuls of sand on top of them.  The grave of William E. Flowers Jr. collapsed, and he began inhaling sand.  He died of asphyxiation.  A grand jury called the death “accidental,” clearing seven Zeta Beta Tau members who had been arrested on charges of manslaughter (Nuwer, 1990).

             Several members of the Chi Chapter at Stetson University in Florida were expelled from the fraternity for shocking pledges with an electrical device.  Seven years later the entire chapter was suspended for 1 year in a similar incident, possibly involving the same electrical device (Nuwer, 1990).

             At Manhattan College in New York, on one of the coldest nights of the winter, pledge Michael Flynn, 19 was abandoned naked on an isolated country road in Putnam County, New York.  During the drive by automobile to the drop-off point, fraternity brothers poured beer on his feet, ignoring two pleas from Flynn that his feet were freezing.  The wind-chill factor outside the car was 35 degrees below zero.  Flynn’s feet were seriously frostbitten.  He was hospitalized for 2 weeks and suffered permanent health problems.  A judge acquitted the four defendants, saying he could not determine the brothers had knowingly subjected Flynn to frostbite (Nuwer, 1990).

             Eleven pledges of the Kappa Sigma House at the University of Southern California were each instructed to consume quarter-pound slabs of raw liver.  Thick cut and soaked in oil, each was to be swallowed whole, one to a pledge.  Gagging and choking repeatedly, Richard Swanson failed three times to down his piece.  Determined to succeed, he finally got the oil-soaked meat into his throat where it lodged, and, despite all efforts to remove it, killed him (Described in Cialdini, 1985).

             Two freshmen at Ohio State University were brought to the “dungeon” of their prospective fraternity house after breaking the rule requiring all pledges to crawl into the dining area prior to Hell Week meals.  Once locked in the house storage closet, they were given only salty foods to eat for nearly two days.  Nothing was provided for drinking purposes except a pair of plastic cups in which they could catch their own urine (Described in Cialdini, 1985).

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This tutorial was produced for Psy 324, Advanced Social Psychology, Spring 2000 at Miami University.  All graphics are from the public domain,used with permission, or were created by the authors.  Social Psychology / Miami University (Ohio USA).   Last revised: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 23:13:05. This document has been accessed  1 times since 1 May 2000. Comments & Questions to R. Sherman