Editor’s note: Due to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the names of the three women involved in the alleged acts are withheld.
TAMPA – Three University of Tampa students were accused of hazing new pledges during a two-month period last semester.
According to a complaint submitted to circuit court last May, Delta Sigma Theta pledges reported that they were “yelled at, made to run, do push-ups, squats, eat garlic wrapped in Big Red gum and drink hot sauce, hold a match between their fingers while reciting a pledge, had rocks and grass thrown at them and that they were paddled.”
The three sorority members specifically identified in the complaint were high-ranking officers within the Delta Sigma Theta sorority. S.C. and L.P. were seniors and M.B. was a junior.
In defense, the women filed a petition stating that, as black females, they were unfairly targeted by the university’s judicial board.They stated that members in fraternities Kappa Sigma and Sigma Phi Epsilon engaged in similar controversial actions including tasering.
These organizations were sanctioned collectively and received a probation period of one semester. The Delta Sigma Theta members were sanctioned individually.
The Hillsborough County Circuit Court dismissed the complaint, stating that the university was not at fault.
Breakdown of Events
A victim who participated in the rush stated that they were told to get into S.C. and M.B.’s car and put their heads between their laps. Once they arrived at a location, they were told to line up as the sorority sisters said their applications were “crappy and that they should put them in the garbage.”
The pledges were given explicit instructions to not wear the color red or to wear shorts, only knee-length or longer pants. On Feb. 24, one of the victims said that S.C. and L.P. made a pledge purchase their breakfasts and have them delivered to L.P.’s apartment by 7:22 a.m.
On Feb. 28, pledges were blind-folded, made to run chains, run suicides, do mountain climbs and do push-ups while reciting sorority doctrine. The victim stated that L.P. threatened to bite her nails off and that S.C. threatened to urinate on her.
Another pledge, said she was forced to “answer like an animal (I believe it was a camel)” whenever she was asked a question. The victim claimed the sorority leaders attempted to leave that evening with the pledge’s phone in their cars. They returned soon after. M.B. attempted to hit the pledges with her car.
Pledges were told to turn in essays to the sorority officers to be titled, “Why We Are Wasting Your Time,” by sunrise.
Around March 3 (a victim reported this may be a day off), pledges received multiple phone calls and were sought after.
They were harassed again that evening from “1:30 a.m. to roughly 4 or 5 a.m.”
The victim said, “we were scared to contact them, walk past them or even talk to them.”
The pledges and sorority sisters met at a Bank of America on March 20, where M.B., L.P., and S.C. yelled because another pledge present, even after she was not invited. The three women were reported to have cursed at the pledges before they “peeled out of the parking lot.”
After this incident, the pledges reported that they received another round of calls from the sorority sisters.
The women said they had “to run chains” and “do push-ups,” and that they were “paddled until tears.” One girl said “we had rocks thrown at us, grass thrown at us and put in our hair and clothes.” And said that they were “cursed at, made to hold huge bricks and do static squats” until “we almost collapsed.”
The Final Call
M.B., S.C. and L.P. admitted to most of the allegations. No legal action was taken against the women. However, they were kept from finishing their classes or taking final exams during their suspension from the university. This resulted in failing grades and kept S.C. and L.P. from graduating in May 2011.
Ashley Kearney, the new Delta Sigma Theta president, commented on the incident:
“I can assure all that Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated is a sisterhood and all actions against our organization’s anti-hazing policy were addressed in the appropriate manner. Any additional information on our policy can be found on our national website.
“I do not wish to point fingers and cannot discuss any specifics. The Tau Iota Chapter is moving in a positive direction under the same advisor. How the situation was perceived is evident through our hosting the National Hazing Prevention week Sept. 19-24th.”
Click on each link to download each of the case documents:
- CIVIL COVER SHEET
- COMPLAINT FOR TEMPORARY INJUNCTION
- RESPONDENT’S FIRST REQUEST FOR ADMISSIONS TO M.B.
- THE UNIVERSITY OF TAMPA’S MOTION TO COMPEL RESPONSES TO ITS FIRST REQUESTS FOR ADMISSIONS TO M.B.. S.C. AND L.P.
Alex Vera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org