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Former Lambda Phi Epsilon Pledge Details Culture Of Hazing

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Lambda Phi Epsilon’s brownstone on 114th Street

Editor’s note: this article contains descriptions of physical hazing.

Bwog has received a detailed report about the initiation process of Columbia’s chapter of Lambda Phi Epsilon which details the extreme hazing pledges are forced to endure. According to an anonymous student who pledged the fraternity in the Spring of 2018 and disaffiliated this semester (Fall 2018), the abusive rush process that he experienced involved intense physical exertion, food restrictions, and food that appeared to be laced with chemicals.

The student, who said that he vaguely knew that the initiation process would be physical but did not know the extent, described physical trials including doing push-ups, burpees, running suicides, and other strenuous activities. The exercises started out at a manageable level, he said, but grew increasingly torturous. Lambda’s pledging process included so many “knuckle push-ups” that his knuckles were bleeding for days.

The student also described an incident in which the fraternity brothers singled out a pledge and made the pledge suffer additional extreme physical exercises, including knuckle push-ups, in the Lambda house basement. The rest of the pledge class, who did not know what was happening to him at the time, was summoned to the house to “save” the pledge after the pledge had been there for around two hours. When the student and his fellow pledges arrived, according to Bwog’s source, the pledge who was being punished was crying out in pain and collapsing as he attempted to do the exercises.

Other chapters of Lambda from New York University and the University of Pennsylvania were involved in the hazing, according to Bwog’s source. He said that members of NYU’s Lambda chapter came uptown to Columbia to participate, and at one point an NYU brother singled him out to do hundreds of knuckle push-ups.

In the last week of the pledging process, the Columbia pledges were taken to the University of Pennsylvania’s chapter. There, they were made to compete with the Penn Lambda pledges in physical activities, including push-ups and high knees. The exertion was so extreme that our source recounts passing out and being doused with ice water to forcibly awaken him.

The student described other horrifying accounts of hazing rituals that happened during the final week of the pledging process, commonly referred to as “Hell Week” at Lambda and other fraternities. According to him, the pledging members were made to sleep in the Lambda house every night. They were permitted to sleep for only a few hours at a time and were woken up at irregular intervals to be hazed.

Our source said that the pledges’ CUIDs were taken from them and that they were forbidden from going to dining halls. The pledges were permitted only to eat tofu and brown rice prepared at the house. At one point, according to our source, they were fed chicken that seemed to be prepared with some sort of chemical that he said caused an intense, acidic burning sensation, and made one pledging member momentarily go blind.

Our source described the pledging process as he experienced it last semester, in Spring 2018. The student further claimed that he disaffiliated in the Fall and filed a report with the university last week. He has not yet heard from the university about his report. He said that the university does not know about these incidents unless someone tells them, which he believes is uncommon. He also noted that Lambda only had two or three group hazing sessions such as the ones described above, and interactions with the fraternity brothers outside of such hazing are mostly casual and social. He added that fraternity initiation processes at other universities tend to be even worse than those at Columbia.

If this student’s recent report leads to repercussions for Lambda, the fraternity will first receive a list of alleged charges. Then a small number of brothers will represent the fraternity at a hearing, where they will be informed of the context of the report. This process typically takes weeks; any charges brought against Lambda and the results of the hearing are typically not made public even after completion. Lambda is currently on social suspension for hard alcohol, according to the fraternity’s president, but is not facing any sanctions related to hazing.

The Lambda president acknowledged in an interview with Bwog that recruiting processes have been “problematic” in the past, and emphasized their recent efforts to change how initiation works. He also stated that the old process included certain rules, including “no drugs, no alcohol, and no skipping classes.”

He explained that resistance to any changes in the Lambda pledging process typically came from the outgoing class of upperclassmen. Once the class of 2017 graduated, the fraternity was allegedly more free to make changes. Lambda claims that they voluntarily opted out of taking a pledge class this semester (Fall 2018) because they were making drastic changes to the pledging process. He said they have been redesigning the process since the summer and have been working on it throughout this semester.

He also said that the fraternity wanted to keep the end goals of the pledging process and the lessons it teaches (“never leave a brother behind,” “know your limits,” etc.), which he said are “objectively good values,” while rejecting the “bad” process. According to the president, Lambda’s new pledging process no longer involves physical coercion, which he confirmed has happened in the past, but rather focuses on learning about Asian identity (Lambda Phi Epsilon is an Asian American-interest fraternity) and planning cultural and philanthropic events.

A university spokesperson declined to comment at this time about the hazing rituals at Lambda, which occurred in part within Lambda’s university-owned brownstone on 114th Street, but Bwog has reached out again and will update this post with any statement received from Columbia.

Edit December 2, 2018, 8:20 PM: To clarify, Lambda Phi Epsilon was not aware of the allegations in this article prior to its publication.

Lambda Phi Epsilon via Bwog Archives

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65 Comments

  1. What a snitch

    Kid needs to mind his own business. If he didn't like it, he could have dropped at any point.

  2. AznBro

    Weak Asian frat wannabes

  3. ameringlishboy  

    my best friend joined a frat. now he only hangs out with his fellow bros. dickhead.

  4. Concerned  

    This is despicable. I can't believe we even have Greek life at Columbia. Greek life perpetuates morally repugnant behavior among cis white men.

  5. xeslana

    A culture of hyper masculinity to overcompensate for all of the negative stereotypes surrounding asian males that these men grow up hearing and internalizing.

  6. hazing happens here  

    this is not the first or only frat w hazing on this campus. the culture needs changing

  7. impartial2104  

    While the guy had all the right to share whatever happened to him, there are also certain commitments to the fraternity that are assumed to be secret and agreed by the rushee before pledging. If he had already disaffiliated in the fall, why would he come up with this now? I wonder if his intentions in coming out with this now were fueled by resentment more than anything else. I'm not trying to endorse the emotional and physical toll pledging involves, I just think that he should think about his intentions in making this public and the consequences this has for others whose experiences with pledging have been more positive.

  8. Anon

    Ban frats. Literally only the US has these stupid organizations that do nothing but hurt students

  9. yike  

    I'm sure that frat hazing is problematic, especially when it comes to hazing with alcohol... but from the article, it sounds like Lambda's hazing process is alcohol-free and is basically intense workouts, food restriction and sleep deprivation -- which sounds a lot like being on a sports team?? I'm sure I don't know the full extent of the pledging, and I do not want to delegitimize the feelings of the person who came forward with the allegations, but I'm curious to know if most members of Lambda Phi Epsilon feel though the process is abusive, or if this is an opinion held mainly by this one ex-Lambda.

    I'm also curious to know if Bwog has done any reporting to verify the claims in the article, especially the food-lacing claim, which seems particularly egregious.

  10. Anonymous

    Omg, he had to do pushups! Sounds terrible. Say it isn't so.

  11. Anonymous  

    Wait is this the kid that has been going around bragging to people that he's going to "take down lambdas" and joking about what frat he should take down next? I think a hazing process like this should definitely be exposed, because it's truly a horrible thing and this kid could be truly traumatized, but I'm confused what his true motives are because it seems like the frat is already taking actions to reform the process, so why is he going public with this now? Aren't there better ways to change the process (which are maybe happening already?)? Seems shady, esp because I haven't heard of any other lambda disaffiliates/complaints against their hazing process, but idk

  12. f bwog  

    that feel when spec hasn’t posted or commented on this but bwog has ... probably because it’s very clear they’ve done no fact-checking (as evidenced by the edit at the bottom) and thus this amounts to nothing more than publishing unverifiable gossipy claims. smh bwog

  13. Anonymous

    Triggered Lambdas LOL.

  14. Your Daddy

    This article is fake. Everyone knows multicultural orgs don’t haze.

  15. rushPi's

    Snitches get stitches

  16. x

    you get in shape from the workouts and its all worth it in the end :)

  17. Anonymous

    Lambdas are trash

  18. Anonymous

    Downvotes are by sensitive Lambdas who are in denial that their org is a joke

  19. hot ones  

    "they were fed chicken that seemed to be prepared with some sort of chemical that he said caused an intense, acidic burning sensation" u mean hot sauce? LMAOOO

  20. Anon

    Identity politics at its worst.

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