ORLANDO, Fla. – The University of Central Florida has suspended its chapter of Beta Theta Pi after a mother complained that her son was forced to chug a "huge bottle" of Smirnoff while pledging the fraternity, according to campus officials.
UCF's investigation began after the school received copies of the letters the pledge's mother and uncle wrote to Beta Theta Pi national organization after the student was dismissed from joining the fraternity shortly before initiation.
The letters claim that the student was "humiliated" and stripped of his pledge pin without any explanation, just that he'd been "black balled" from the fraternity.
"To string these young men along for the many weeks of pledgeship and then to cut one of them without cause or explanation a week or two from the end process is appalling," a letter from the student's uncle read.
The man's mother said her son was asked to pledge because he has a high GPA and participates in extracurricular activities, but as soon he started the pledging process he had to perform errands and favors for fraternity brothers, the report said.
Those errands included giving rides to members and their girlfriends and cleaning the fraternity's house at 4 a.m. in preparation for a party, the mother wrote in her letter.
"Interviews required from all brothers on the surface seemed like a great way to meet brothers,
but instead they were used to extort favors, food, and rides. [The student spent] the entire pledge ship
getting texts and calls from brothers demanding he give them rides from parties, pick up their
girlfriends, and drive them to get food. At a time when he had classes, one brother told to give him and his father a ride to and from Universal Studios in exchange for an interview," the letter read,
The woman writes she was concerned when her son told her that he got sick after being forced to chug alcohol at a fraternity event and when he sent her a picture of what he was forced to chug, it was a "huge bottle" of Smirnoff Ice.
"Being concerned, I did not understand why one drink made him sick until he sent a picture of the huge bottle he was pressured and forced to chug. I told him that he needed to be careful as he is not used to drinking and I was worried about him and the other pledges. He said that he was forced to do it as with all the other pledges," the letter read.
The UCF Beta Theta Pi Chapter Counselor replied to the letter the student's uncle sent, apologizing for the way in which the student was de-pledged.
In light of the letter, the fraternity is accused of hazing and providing alcohol to underage students. A hearing to discuss the chapter's interim suspension is scheduled for Feb. 16, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
The fraternity is prohibited from participating in any on- or off-campus events -- including meetings, mixers, recruitment and socials -- while the interim suspension is in place.
A spokesman from the Beta Theta Pi national organization provided News 6 with a statement:
“The International Fraternity is working in conjunction with undergraduate leaders, alumni advisors and university officials to investigate claims brought forward against its chapter at the University of Central Florida. All chapter activities have been suspended at this time, and will resume pending the investigation’s outcome. The Fraternity will release additional information as it becomes available.”