According to documents released by Miami University, "On April 3, 2015, photos were posted on SnapChat and a text message accompanied the photos noting that the pledges of Sigma Nu Fraternity were not allowed to take showers or shave and must drink 100 beers … The photos show men with tallies on their chest."
I was one of the pledges photographed in the SnapChats. Two pictures showed me, shirtless and passed out drunk on a couch covered in tally marks. I am clearly under the influence of something. When I saw these pictures for the first time, I couldn't help but cringe.
These marks didn't represent the beers I drank that week. My typical weekly alcohol consumption was far greater than the tally marks that I decided to decorate my chest with. I did not drink these beers because I was forced to; I drank to numb my personal pain. Active members did not make me drink until I was incoherent; instead I got so incredibly plastered because I couldn't bear the crippling depression that I have been dealing with for the majority of my life.
This wasn't a new self-medicating, self-destructive way of dealing with it. I had been doing this since I first went to a party in high school. For some reason I felt that it would be more acceptable to pass out than to not go to the party and deal with my depression in a safe and healthy manner. The way I looked at it, being passed out was way better than being miserable.
I was so drunk that night that I don't remember meeting my date, which I had been set up with by a friend. The only memory I have is from a picture of her posing next to my blacked out body. This was not because I was forced to drink by brothers of Sigma Nu. I was forced to drink by a downward spiral of depression that consumed me.
When I was identified in the investigation I had a meeting with a school official. I lied to her and said I was asleep because my antidepressant medication made me drowsy. I wasn't wrong, but instead of Zoloft knocking me out, it was alcohol. The lies weren't to protect Sigma Nu. I was embarrassed. Sitting there looking at pictures of myself from a night I couldn't even remember made me want to crawl into a hole deeper than even my own illness.
Now that the story has hit various news outlets, I can't stand by and let news outlets report that a pledge was photographed after being forced to drink. Hazing was not the issue at hand; instead it was an even bigger problem that people would rather not talk about. Mental illness impacts the lives of students all over Miami's campus.
I admire Miami's efforts to keep their students safe regardless of Greek affiliation, but I would like to see our school and community take steps to raise awareness of the mental health issues that destroy the minds of fellow RedHawks every day. The same minds that make our school so great are often being internally torn apart on a daily basis.
I have been forced to take a leave of absence from school to deal with my problems. Depression nearly took my life and I fear that other people will make the same decision I almost made before they have the chance to get help.
There are many other students on campus with similar stories. Their stories go unnoticed while they are unable to get the help that they need and deserve. To fellow Miamians who are fighting the same fight, I hope you can take the steps to get the help you need. Know that people are there to help. The road is long and you may not win every battle, but the war is yours to win. You are worth it.
Jack Yungblut email@example.com