Food and beverages have long been weaponized in traumatic fraternity hazing rituals, whether it’s forcing pledges to drink excessive amounts of alcohol, chug gallons of milk, or endure hot sauce squirted in their eyes. The latter reportedly scarred a former University of Arizona student, requiring him to seek surgery to remove scar tissue from his eye after he was burned in a fraternity event in April. The Arizona Daily Star reports the former University of Arizona student dropped out of school following the hazing and has since filed a lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages.
The allegations in the former student’s lawsuit are disturbing: He describes not only the hot sauce incident, but being forced to do push-ups on broken glass (leading to lacerations and infection) and being kicked and punched inside dark rooms while Nazi Party music blared. How this would ever encourage membership in a social club is beyond comprehension.
Unfortunately, pouring hot sauce in a person’s eyes is not unheard of. YouTube videos of this “stunt” might make it seem relatively harmless, but the capsaicin in chilis can seriously damage eye tissue. It’s worth noting that capsaicin is the main irritant in pepper spray and can cause “serious and long-lasting ocular damage.”
“We’re also hoping to bring awareness to this type of hazing,” the former student’s lawyer told the Arizona Daily Star. “People might become aware of this type of behavior so it doesn’t happen again.”