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University of Miami fraternity under investigation for alleged hazing after video spreads around campus

University of Miami fraternity under investigation for alleged hazing
University of Miami fraternity under investigation for alleged hazing 03:03

CORAL GABLES — A fraternity at the University of Miami is under investigation for an alleged hazing incident that occurred on campus.

According to a Thursday article from The Miami Hurricane — the university's campus newspaper and the first to report it — a leaked video that been circulating around students appears to show members of the UM chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) engaging in a hazing activity in the backyard of their fraternity house — in the middle of the day.

In the video, one of the members steps into a trash can and crouches down, while others surround him and chug "large amounts of milk," The Hurricane reported, before they then "spit or vomit" onto the student in the trash can, leaving what appears to be milk and possibly vomit "running down his back."

"The four students, likely pledges, are surrounded by several onlookers, believed to also be members of [SAE]," The Hurricane stated. "They watch, take pictures and laugh at the hazing activity."

According to The Hurricane, the video was reportedly taken from the neighboring Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity house based on the video angle and student reports. However, the individual who shot the video has not been identified.

The video has gone viral among UM students. The Hurricane stated in its report that it chose not to publish the full video at this time, but a clip of it can be seen on social media.

UM students told CBS News MIami's Peter D'Oench that they are troubled by the video.

"I think this is sad that this is happening right now," said senior Brianna Benjamin. "I am concerned that this could be happening with other fraternities and we are not hearing about it."

"It just feels that it is not safe and this is demeaning and this could be a gateway to even worse behavior with far worse outcomes," added sophomore Jene Turner.   

"I hope that the video can serve as a lesson on how we can all be better in the future," said junior Brian Young. 

The video has also reached UM administrators, prompting swift responses to the incident.

"The University of Miami has received multiple reports related to alleged conduct violations by one of our fraternity chapters," the university spokesperson said in a statement provided to CBS News Miami. "We are aware of videos being circulated but can only confirm the authenticity of one video. A full investigation is underway."

The fraternity's national chapter released a statement responding to the allegations later Thursday evening.

"The Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity Service Center has received a report related to an alleged incident involving our Chapter at The University of Miami," a spokesperson told CBS News Miami. "We have placed our Chapter on a Cease & Desist and are working jointly with the University to investigate."

According to The Hurricane, the actions shown in the video could be considered a felony or misdemeanor under Florida's anti-hazing law, also known as the Chad Meredith Act. The act was signed into law back in 2005, following the death of Chad Meredith, a University of Miami student, who drowned in Lake Osceola after overdrinking with two Kappa Sigma officers. At the time of his death, he had a blood alcohol content level of 0.13.

David Bianchi is an attorney who filed a successful lawsuit that led to the Chad Meredith Act becoming law.

"Technically, this incident was hazing but under Florida criminal statute, it is not a form of hazing that would result in any criminal prosecution because the outcome is such that there was no personal injury or death. And based on what I saw in the video, what they were doing to this guy was not likely to cause serious injury or death," he told D'Oench. "There's not going to be any criminal prosecution against anybody, but the university and the national fraternity will take action because it is hazing and it is a violation of policies." 

The Hurricane also reported that SAE's incident isn't the first time a University of Miami fraternity has faced hazing allegations. Prior to this, UM closed its Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter in 2022 after another video leaked showing members chanting about "raping and murdering women and alleged drugging."

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