A UC Davis graduate filed a lawsuit against UC Davis for not taking action on his numerous complaints about a Jewish fraternity's sexually-charged and abusive hazing rituals. Ryan Clifford claims that he was "punched, stripped naked, molested and forced to drink 'inordinate amounts' of alcohol" while pledging the Chi Delta chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi back in 2008.
In his lawsuit, Clifford says that he was specifically targeted for cruel initiation since he was a non-Jew pledging for a Jewish fraternity. According to The Chronicle, "[a]t a mandatory retreat at Lake Tahoe, he said, active and alumni members of the fraternity drugged him, took off his clothes and touched his penis, all while making sexual comments."
Then, a few weeks later, Chi Delt brethren allegedly "brought Clifford and other pledges to an alumnus' house and compelled them to drink alcohol." After Clifford refused to imbibe, he was then forced "into a padded vest and punched in the stomach by a member and a pledge as other members mocked him."
Even his "big brother" (the Virgil to a pledge's Dante, if you will) reportedly abused the plaintiff by "choking him, stomping on his foot and knocking him to the floor." Clifford suffered a multiple fracture that required surgery.
Although the fraternity should have been disbanded immediately after the Lake Tahoe incident, which prompted complaints from several other students' parents, UC Davis did nothing.
The Chronicle reports:
[Clifford] said he told Tracy Grissom, his academic counselor, in fall 2008 and again in winter 2009 about his experience, but she did not report it. He said he also told his professors.
In spring 2009, Clifford said he spoke to the Office of the Dean of Students of the "continuing emotional and physical distress" he had to endure attending classes with his alleged abusers. He was then advised to withdraw from classes, which he did.
As we now know all too well from the Penn State disaster--where faculty kept silent on the alleged rape of a 10-year-old inside Penn State showers by football coach Jerry Sandusky--institutes of higher education in the U.S. typically keep quiet about abuse and scandal. Clifford, unable to take the stress from his hazing, later graduated with a UC Davis diploma via online and community college courses.
He never joined the fraternity in question.
But are the aforementioned and alleged hazing acts the norm? We asked a former fraternity member if such abusive rituals were commonplace during pledge weeks. Requesting to remain anonymous, he told SFist, "touching someone's penis is unusual as is drugging somebody [during initiation] ... and physically abusing someone is definitely not cool."
In addition to causing pledge distress, Alpha Epsilon Pi at UC Davis also raises money for a slew of charities, including ELEM (Youth In Distress In Israel), the JNF - Jewish National Fund), Save a Child’s Heart, and Sharsheret. According to the AEPi site, "Raising money for quality organizations gives us a great feeling of accomplishment; raising money while having fun makes the experience even better and it is what separates us from all the other chapters." Yes, that and the unwarranted punching, choking, and occasional penis touching.