University of Maryland hazing allegedly included students being burned with cigarettes, lying on nails: docs

A temporary suspension of Greek life activities on the University of Maryland's campus has shone light on recent hazing allegations, court documents show.

The Maryland Attorney General's Office on Friday filed a memorandum in opposition to a request from several UMD fraternities for a temporary restraining order against school officials following the March 1 suspension of Greek life activities, which is described as a "punishment" that "has denied college students their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights."

The AG's office, however, argued that UMD "was fully authorized pursuant to its Code of Student Conduct to impose limited, temporary restrictions on some chapter activities while it investigated serious and persistent allegations of hazing and alcohol abuse at multiple chapters which threatened the health and safety of its students."

The school concluded its investigation on March 15 and lifted the suspension for most UMD fraternities and sororities, though five remain under investigation.

The suspension began after UMD's Office of Student Conduct (OSC) "received an anonymous report from a parent that their son was being subjected to harmful hazing… including being required by the chapter to stay outside in the cold for several hours on the evening of February 21, 2024, which necessitated a trip to the University Health Center for suspected hypothermia."

The alleged hazing also included "cleaning the off-campus houses of chapter members (known as ‘satellite houses’), and scrubbing floors until 2:30 am," court filings say.

On Feb. 27, OSC received another anonymous email "alleging that multiple unidentified fraternities were engaged in hazing activities with new members, including: being beaten with a paddle; being burned with cigarettes and torches; having to lay on nails; ‘[b]eing forced to consume things that are not food (an alive fish, chewing tobacco, urine)’; being spit on; and being forced to clean chapter members’ residences."

The person who sent the anonymous email also stated that he personally experienced: "Being forced to attend a ‘Line Up’ at which they abuse you for hours on end (in my experience) where they force you to wall sit, do push-ups, plank, intentionally harm oneself, be naked/in underwear for the purpose of public humiliation, and be physically assaulted."

The anonymous email author added that at one such event, "one individual passed out," and fraternity members "refused" to give water to pledges, or prospective members, and "forced" them to drink "straight vodka as they did nothing to help" the person who passed out. 

"[I]n fact they hit him in the face with a plastic bat and poured beer on him until he woke up," the email author wrote.

On March 1, OSC received another anonymous message "from the mother of a new member of Fraternity 2 alleging hazing by the chapter, including locking new members in the basement and breaking glass on the floor for the new members to clean up."

OSC further reviewed data from UMD's Health and Counseling Centers and determined that there had been "a troubling uptick in visits to both Centers by IFC and PHA chapter members during the month of February."

"Based on the totality of information received by the University as of March 1, and concerns about ongoing violations of the Code of Conduct relating to hazing and alcohol and drug use, OSC determined that immediate action was warranted to prevent harm to the University’s students, particularly since it was anticipated that there would be many recruiting activities and social events by the chapters in the coming weekend," court documents stated.

Earlier this month, the university wrote a letter to fraternity and sorority presidents informing them of the suspension. The letter did not say the alleged misconduct was hazing but instead described it as "activities that have threatened the safety and well-being of members of the University community."

Fox News' Landon Mion contributed to this report.