Texas Cowboy pledge Gabe Higgins drowned during the fraternity’s initiation in the early morning hours of April 29, 1995, after a semester of hazing, including cattle prodding, forced drinking, and paddling. Even though the organization had been on probation for one year due to paddling their pledges, they blatantly continued. The traditional initiation finale was to be a paddling the following morning until “blood ran into their boots.”
Earlier in the semester when Gabe was accepted as a pledge, he had been told to get real drunk, it was gonna hurt. He was paddled that night 20 times, followed by a party with friends and beer and told to act like nothing happened.
Emails to his older brother revealed that Gabe had no idea pledging the Texas Cowboys would involve so much hazing and that if he were to do it over again, he wouldn’t have pledged. He was already a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity; The Texas Cowboys was a second fraternity exclusively on the University of Texas campus. They were known for shooting the cannon off at the football games. One Texas governor, a state senator and many other high profile men belonged to this group, who, until the mid-50’s branded their pledges.
In the beginning, Gabe felt honored to be asked to join the Cowboys since he was the only Northerner, from Idaho. When his girlfriend told him to quit, his reply was, “No, I can’t. I’ve got too much into this. It’s almost over.”
Gabe was told the initiation would be a piece of cake. It was, until something went seriously awry on the river that fateful night, which remains to be: The Cowboys’ Secret.
Hazing is the wrongful act of initiation. Will your son or daughter be next?
The last third of the book includes information on hazing: the definition, bullying, binge drinking, hazing stories, problems at University of Texas (and many other schools), how hazing can be stopped and advice to parents and students.