In 2005, American college student Matt Carrington wanted to become a member of a fraternity at his university. If he was to become a member, the young student had to perform embarrassing pranks and then undergo a “Pledge Week”, also known as “Hell Week”.
Wannabe fraternity members were forced to sleep in the basement of a fraternity house, where sewer pipes had burst. They had to do sit-ups in the sewage-drenched basement until five in the morning. The following night was “Pledge Olympics”, whereby newcomers had to complete a number of assorted exercises.
On February 1, 2005, it was “Movie Night”, which involved members of the pact watching movies and playing poker in the basement, while the “pledges” stood on a wooden bench in their underwear, drinking water from a five gallon tank.
When they needed to urinate, they had to ask the members whether they could do so; they could then pee themselves, whilst being jeered and ridiculed by the fraternity members.
When asked to “take one for the homie”, the newcomers had to then dump water on themselves. The initiation members were also asked questions about the history of the fraternity, if they answered a question wrong they had to perform more exercises, whilst being drenched by members as fans blew over them in the stifling hot temperatures of the basement.
Matt Carrington’s Tragic Demise
On the night of February 1, 2005, Matt Carrington had a seizure, was denied medical assistance, stopped breathing and was pronounced dead. He had died of hypothermia, cardiac dysrhythmia, and water intoxication. (1)
This shocking and sadistic story sounds like something that could have happened in the 15th century when so-called “witches” were burned at the stake, not eight years ago in an allegedly civilized society that is defined by protocol and good behavior.
“Hazing” is widespread on American campuses. According to the New York Times, a 2008 University of Maine research report concluded that 55% of students that join fraternities, sports teams, sororities and other student groups, experience some form of hazing. (2)
The late Matt Carrington’s brutal demise was bred from a culture known as Greek hazing, a variation of initiation rituals, which typically take place at college campuses and involve painful, humiliating and often dangerous rituals.
In the wake of Matt Carrington’s death, on August 24, 2006, a law was passed in California, known as “Matt’s Law”, which categorizes hazing and fraternity initiations as a crime. Matt’s Law describes hazing as:
“Conduct which causes, or likely to cause, bodily danger, physical harm, or personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to another person in course of the other person’s pre-initiation into, initiation into, affiliation with, holding office in, maintaining membership in any organisation.” (1)
The Rituals Continue
Despite Matt Carrington’s horrific death bringing some much-needed attention to the culture of Greek hazing and evoking a California-based law that enables for felony prosecutions when serious injuries or deaths arise from hazing rituals, these sadistic and antiquated initiation rituals are still occurring in universities and colleges.
In October 2012, three fraternities were suspended in the United States, which involved two students being hospitalized. A report made in the Crimson White, talks of how Greek pledges at the University of Alabama live, “A life narrowly focused on making it to initiation into their fraternity of choice.” (2)
On October 10, 2012, a University of Alabama fraternity pledge sent an anonymous email to the Crimson White newspaper stating that the organization has “reached its maximum, where we can no longer take the brutality of pledgeship and something must be done.” (3)
Approximately ten days later, the university suspended its pledgeship week, although the Dean of Students, Tim Hebson, insisted that the action had nothing to do with the email.
It does seem somewhat incredible that these strange initiation rituals are still occurring in modern society. It seems even more astonishing that there is not a national bill that stipulates hazing or hazing-like ceremonies are forbidden in universities and colleges throughout the United States and anyone found involved in such a culture would be heavily penalized.
These antiquated hazing acts can be likened to initiation ceremonies and rites of mysterious ancient cults. For example, initiation ceremonies would take place in ancient Egypt, whereby individuals would travel to Egypt for the sole purpose of being initiated into the Ancient Mystery Schools. Similar to the hazing ritual in a California university that led to Matt Carrington’s death, the Ancient Mystery Schools’ initiations were performed over three days and took place in dark and mysterious places, such as caves, tombs or sacred groves. (4)
According to A Seeker’s Thoughts, these Initiation Ceremonies of the Ancient Mystery Schools were held in such high esteem that they were only available to a “very select few men and women who were truly worthy and well-qualified to receive this high honour.” (4)
The fact that the strange Greek hazing rituals are regarded by many as an unpleasant but necessary task that is designed to ensure only those who are truly worthy of receiving the honor of being a member of the fraternity also symbolizes that this callous culture stems from a cult-like past.