One college sophomore has been found dead and five are injured after a weekend sorority hazing ritual spun out of control. Sources say that Jenni Letham, 19, died after senior Beta Pi sorority members at University College, Pennsylvania, gossiped about the potential new members (PNMs) relentlessly for over nine hours.
“She said her ears were burning, and then she just fell over,” says Letham’s roommate, Ginger Perkins, who was present when Letham died from the lethal dose of gossip. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The local sorority chapter may have their charter revoked due to charges of manslaughter, despite their assertions that Letham “should have had a thicker skin” and that they “had no idea she was so sensitive”.
“We didn’t mean for her to die,” says Beta Pi Party Chair Lydia Fern. “We just wanted to destroy her sense of self and of her worth as a human being. And then we were going to offer her a bid. This is so, so sad.”
Whereas previous bullying deaths have led, directly or indirectly, to student suicides—particularly in junior high or high school—this case is notable in that it occurred at the college level, and seems to have been a direct result of the actual trash talk itself.
“The thing is, she wasn’t even going to rush Beta Pi,” says Perkins. “In fact, I’m not even sure she was going to go through with rushing any sorority, after going through Greek Week.” According to Perkins, Letham had described rush week as sort of a nightmare, requiring her to write inspirational sayings on construction paper hearts, and then sprinkling them with glitter. “She had a really hard time with that,” says Perkins. “And yes, we gossiped about it.”
According to Beta Pi Chapter President Larissa Cleve, Letham’s negative attitude about the Hearts of Positivity exercise was a major point of gossip in the final round/preference night ritual that ultimately ended Letham’s life.
“Look, I’m really sorry that she’s dead, okay?” says Cleve. “But you can’t put that all on Beta Pi. Jenni had a pretty negative attitude, and at Beta Pi, we believe that you choose to be happy. And if you don’t choose to be happy, in a way, you’re kind of choosing to be dead, know what I mean?”
The five injured students who were also gossiped about that night did not sustain life-threatening injuries, and are expected to recover fully in time to rush.
One of them, Kaycii DeLancet, still plans to rush Beta Pi when she gets out of the hospital.
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” said DeLancet. “And I know I would be a strong member of Beta Pi, now that that weakass Jenni is dead.”