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Fraternity pledge nearly loses four fingers in hazing ‘punishment’

Two members of Nu Alpha Phi at Syracuse University have been charged with hazing, and the fraternity has been suspended, after a pledge almost lost four fingers to frostbite in what’s been described as a horrific hazing incident.

The pledges had been “punished” by being told to do push-ups three times a day for several weeks throughout February, exercises that typically took place in the frat house’s attic, Syracuse.com reported Tuesday.

Then one night in early March, when temperatures hovered around 19 degrees with snow on the ground, one pledge’s experience took a turn for the worse.

According to a police report obtained by Syracuse.com:

They were never ordered or given an opportunity to put gloves or hats on, so they had no winter gear as they made their way to the park in subzero temperatures on March 1 around midnight. …For roughly 30 minutes, they did push-ups and sit-ups, crawled and rolled in the snow. They did a type of leap-frog exercise where one pledge would ball himself up on the ground to be a rock, another would stand with legs open to be a bridge and the third would go over the rock and under the bridge. They took turns being the rock and the bridge.

According to Syracuse police, after the pledges participated in the “exercises,” one of them began to complain about a very painful sensation in his hands. After the pain became increasingly unbearable, the student, 20, made the decision to seek medical attention at a local hospital. The doctors quickly determined the pledge had a case of severe frostbite caused by prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures.

Doctors initially believed the student might have to have up to four fingers, the ring and pinkie fingers on each hand, surgically removed.

On Friday, Syracuse Lt. Eric Carr said the student has had blood flow return to his fingers, and that ‘‘he will not lose them at this time,” The Associated Press reported, adding the young man will need extensive physical therapy.

Meanwhile, the Syracuse Police arrested the two students determined to be most responsible for the incident. Fraternity brothers and pledge “masters” Tae Kim, 19, and Jeffrey Yam, 21, have been charged with misdemeanor first-degree hazing, Syracuse.com reports.

The police have also noted some students have been surprisingly uncooperative and unwilling to speak about the fraternity’s involvement in the hazing. This may be due to the fact that many organizations that haze typically use mental and emotional tactics to convince pledges not to report hazing. Some are even required to sign pledges of silence.

In a statement to the campus community, Dean Rebecca Kantrowitz denounced the incident.

“We must all be committed to creating a campus that respects the dignity and rights of all its members. Our community is stronger because of those who have come forward and taken a stand when these instances do occur,” she said.

At Syracuse, its pledges are already required to complete a Greek Life Edu, which includes education about the dangers of hazing and why it should not have a place in Pan-Hellenic Life.

Students in Greek Life are also given multiple outlets for reporting hazing, such as the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Department of Public Safety, which offers students the opportunity to report incidents anonymously as well.

Kantrowitz, in her email to students after the incident, defined hazing as “any action that intentionally or recklessly causes or poses a substantial risk of harm to the mental or physical health or safety of one or more persons.”

The incident has rocked members of Syracuse University’s Greek life, many of whom have voiced disappointment and concern that the hazing took place.

College Fix reporter Victoria Razzi is a student at Syracuse University.

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About the Author
Victoria Razzi -- Syracuse University.