Rutgers Sorority Members Are Accused of Beating Pledges During Hazing

Sue Epstein and Tom Haydon, Star-Ledger (Newark), January 27, 2010

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Today, Rutgers police said they had arrested six members of the sorority on charges of aggravated hazing, alleging they repeatedly beat at least three pledges between Jan. 18 and Jan. 25. A university official, vice president of student affairs Greg Blimling, and the pledge who spoke to The Star-Ledger put the number of victims at seven.

The university immediately suspended the Rutgers chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho, as did the sorority’s national organization, headquartered in North Carolina.

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Authorities said the beatings took place at Rockoff Hall, a student apartment building on George Street, and at private homes in Newark and West Orange. In addition to the paddling, police said, the pledges were in some cases denied food.

The pledge who spoke to The Star-Ledger did so on condition of anonymity, saying she feared retaliation. {snip}

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The pledge said she was eager to join Sigma Gamma Rho, an African-American sorority founded in 1922, because of its history of community service. On Jan. 18, eight pledges gathered in an apartment in Rockoff Hall, she said.

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Then the paddles came out. The pledges, clad in sweat pants, were instructed to wrap blue and gold tape around the wooden paddles, each a foot long and 6 inches wide, she said.

She was struck 19 times that night, she said. Four sorority members delivered the blows, the pledge said, while two others supervised. She said the group was told the beatings would “humble” them and would get them to rely upon one another.

“At the end, we were supposed to be helping each other,” she said.

One pledge stopped attending after a few nights, she said. Another began to bleed freely at one point. The pain, she said, grew worse by the day. By Monday, unable even to lie down without pain, she called her cousin and mother and went to the hospital.

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