Ms. Vaughn, Ms. Levering and all others whom this may concern,

Who are you protecting?

You kick off my fraternity. You take away my housing. You threaten my friends to not be seen with me. And all the while, I was one of the pledges. I was one of the “victims.”

Just last week, my pledge brother came to me in tears to tell me the brutal truth that his depression has resurfaced and that he does not know if he wants to keep living. A few days later, the girlfriend of one of my other pledge brothers asked me to keep an eye on him because he has talked about not
wanting to be himself.

A few weeks ago, one of my pledge brothers wrote an article in The Student about his major depression, which has forced him to take a leave of absence from Miami.

Every day I suffer from major stress, which causes anxiety and frequent panic attacks.

While your actions may not have caused our psychological troubles, the stress of the situation you put us in certainly worsened them.

Recently, records released show that the school used social-media and anonymous textual evidence of forced alcohol consumption and lack of hygiene to convict Sigma Nu of hazing violations.

I was never interviewed about these hazing allegations. Neither were my fellow pledge brothers. Had we been interviewed, the Office of Ethics and Student Conflict Resolution (OESCR) would have heard that not one of us was forced to drink or stopped from showering and shaving that week.

If the concern was truly hazing, then OESCR would have been acting to protect myself and the other pledges of Sigma Nu. Instead, they chose to immediately suspend our fraternity.

And now, we, the “victims,” are much worse off. We cannot live in the house that became our second home last semester. We cannot compete in Greek Week competitions with our brothers. We cannot conduct or join in philanthropy events on campus.

And the punishment did not end with suspension. The harassment continues as you monitor our actions and activities, even forcing our friends in both sororities and fraternities to sign documents stating that they cannot be seen with us, or face repercussions. 

To say that these past few months have been a traumatic experience, borders on an understatement. Many of us have felt and suffered this way, because you chose to target and attack something that has become an important and irreplaceable part of our lives.

Every day now, my brothers and I walk around campus with an ever-heavy burden — the feeling that we attend a school that does not want us here. And that is a feeling we must bear for the next few years.

Wearing the letters Sigma Nu has become akin to donning Scarlet Letters. Yet I still wear them with pride.

All that I ask of you, is that you ask of yourselves: Who am I protecting?

Austin C. Worrell