19-Year-old WSU Student Found Dead After “Hazing Rituals”

Staff Writer: Sydney M. Cayer

Email: scayer@umassd.edu

On January 22nd, Luke Morgan Tyler, a 19-year-old student from Washington State University, was found dead due to a hazing incident. His cause of death is unknown at this time. 

(Image via change.org)

He was discovered in his dorm at WSU’s Pullman Campus around 1:30 PM. 

Tyler was a member of the Theta Chi fraternity. Claims on his petition state that Tyler experienced ‘inhumane’ hazing that was a part of a long and grueling process in order to join the fraternity.  

The petition states, 

“Their inhumane and cruel hazing forced Luke and many others to do things nobody should ever be forced to do.”

“We demand that Theta Chi be investigated, shut down, and the fraternity’s president, as well as pledge masters and others with power in the fraternity, be investigated for their involvement with the death of Luke Tyler.” 

A GoFundMe has been set up and currently has raised over $11,000. His Change.org petition currently has over 11,000 signatures.

(Image via studyabroad.shiksha.com)

According to Webster’s Dictionary, hazing is “an initiation process involving harassment.” Although many universities have banned hazing, it does not mean that it still does not happen.  

Dr. Susan Lipkins, a psychologist of twenty-five years, conducted a survey about hazing among fraternity and sorority members. She found that,

– 65% of respondents agree that the primary goal of an initiation is to bond.

– 57% of respondents agree that it is important to tolerate psychological stress.

– 31% of respondents agree that a significant element in an initiation rite is humiliation.

– 29% of respondents agree that extreme consumption is often part of an initiation.

– 29% of respondents agree that it is important to tolerate physical pain.

– 29% of respondents agree that they are concerned with the overuse of alcohol during pledge activities.

– 25% of respondents agree that initiation usually involves the use of paddles.

Hazing has been around since 387 B.C. at the same time as Plato’s Academy. Hazing was formerly called “pennalism,” which was “a system of oppression and torment practiced upon first-year students.” 

By 1684 the term hazing was used regularly.  

The first incident of hazing reported in a university happened the same year at Harvard. A student was expelled for hitting students and forcing them to perform servitude acts.  

1912 was when social fraternities started hazing, and we saw more hazing deaths. 

Around World War II, Richard Swanson, a University of Virginia and Kappa Sigma member, choked to death while being forced to eat a quarter-pound of liver.  

Alcohol changed how hazing was implemented, and this is when people had more life-threatening experiences.  

Examples of hazing can be seen as forced consumption of food or liquor, forced sleep deprivation, pressure to commit crimes, cutting or shaving part of the body, forced nudity, simulation or actual commitment of sexual acts, and requiring only certain members to do embarrassing acts.

44 states have laws against hazing, and 13 states have laws that make hazing a felony when it results in death or serious injury. 

States where hazing is viewed as a felony:

– Florida 

– California 

– Wisconsin

– Indiana 

– Missouri 

– Pennsylvania

– New Jersey 

– Texas 

– Utah 

– Michigan 

– Illinois

– West Virginia

– Louisiana

States with zero laws against hazing:

– Alaska 

– New Mexico 

– South Dakota 

– Hawaii

– Wyoming 

– Montana

Since 2000 there have been over 50 deaths related to hazing. These deaths include heat stroke, drowning, cardiac arrest, asphyxia, and alcohol poisoning. 

Although hazing kills, and the majority of hazing is happening within Greek life, there is hardly any repercussions to these organizations. 

Despite universities saying that it is illegal on their campus and within their organizations, it can still happen to anyone. It is always important to know the signs of hazing and to stay safe.


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