At the University of Hartford, one wannabe frat boy fights back.
Sigma Alpha Mu is a national fraternity that “has always acknowledged with deep appreciation its Jewish heritage and the ethical values of Judaism which have enriched its life and the lives of its members,” according to its web site.Maybe someone there told Douglas DeBenedetto that the Torah has a section on rug burns. Or that it says something about pasting hot sauces on different parts of the human body. DeBenedetto, a pledge at SAM’s University of Hartford campus in 2003, filed suit against the fraternity this spring because of its initiation rituals. The lawsuit targets several officers of the national organization, plus numerous members of the local Beta XI chapter.During the pledge initiation program on May 1 2003, DeBenedetto was “subjected to dangerous and hazardous activities,” according to the suit, including being “caused to come into contact with a hot metal implement present during the program; caused to ingest various concoctions of fluids; negligently caused to walk across a rock and glass strewn pavement area barefoot; negligently struck or caused to come into contact with a ‘paddle’ and subject to ‘paddling’; caused to come into contact with various ‘hot sauces’ on various parts of his body; caused to be dragged across carpeting creating rug burns; and caused to be subjected to sleep deprivation, extended isolation from social contact and degrading and humiliating games.“SAM is no longer an accredited fraternity at the University of Hartford campus, UH spokesman David Isgur said, adding that the fraternity lost its status at the end of 2003. However, Isgur said the proceedings by which a fraternity is revoked is private, so he could not provide details. Neither SAM executive director Aaron Girson nor Supreme Prior David Rice returned messages for comment.