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Pledge at University of North Texas Fraternity Reports Hazing
July 20, 2015
By: Charmaine Santos
In the fall of 2013, transfer and commuter student Derek Elrod was rushing the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity at the University of North Texas (UNT). The fraternity was his first choice and he thought the brothers at the fraternity were very welcoming. He felt like he finally found the social support and atmosphere he was longing for. Elrod said, “It was extremely inviting and friendly. I met so many people I thought were really nice people. The feeling was just like, ‘how did I not know that this existed?’ It felt like this was UNT’s greatest secret.” When Elrod got an offer to become a part of the fraternity, he was ecstatic.
When the Sigma Phi Epsilon pledges went to the fraternity house to celebrate, the cheerful mood quickly went away. Elrod called 911 around 3 p.m. in the afternoon to report hazing. According to the police report, the fraternity’s president at the time, Richard Randall, forced the pledges to drink straight vodka and “complete countless push-ups” in one of the rooms inside the house. In 2005, Elrod had been diagnosed with a medical condition involving abnormal nervous system functions. He panicked and recalled, “I felt like I was trapped…The lights were off, the blinds were closed…the door was closed, and there were guys in front of it…I had gotten to the point where I couldn’t even lift my own body up. It was the first moment in my life that I could not lift my own body up from the ground…I felt like I was not free to leave.”
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Eventually Elrod got up raced down the stairs to dial 911. When a police officer arrived, Randall admitted that the brothers didn’t want Elrod there because he was homosexual. Randall said to the police officer, “I honestly thought he was homosexual. Hey guys, we shouldn’t invite him over to our house. It’s kind of weird that he is here.” The question raised is whether the fraternity invited Elrod to pledge, thinking he was gay, so they could torture him with hazing rituals. Hazing rituals are not uncommon within Greek communities at colleges, though not every fraternity or sorority participates and severity levels vary among schools.
Charmaine Santos is a junior at the University of San Francisco pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Biology as well as minors in Chemistry and Health Studies. She volunteers alongside UCSF medical students at a student-run homeless clinic in San Francisco and is also an active volunteer with Operation Access. Charmaine is also a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.