Hazing News

A Chronicle of Higher Education opinion piece

From the Chroncle:

Blame for hazing deaths disputed
Camryn Crump
Issue date: 9/27/07 Section: Opinion

The February 2005 death of Matthew Carrington, a college Chi Tau fraternity pledge at California State University, Chico, from heart failure due to water intoxication led California to implement a new anti-hazing law.

In recent news, victims and their families, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, can now legally sue the perpetrators of hazing.

These perpetrators are those that are in charge of “hell week,” the week of initiation into fraternities and sororities.

Every year a student will die during the week of pledging from ridiculous stunts they are told to do to be apart of what they call “the brotherhood.”

Someone is to blame for these çontinuing incidents on university campuses around the nation.

Universities can only do so much, they are not going to supervise adults to be sure the activities that pledges feel forced to complete, in order to be a potential brother or sister, are reasonable.

Therefore the students and organizations are accountable for the many incidents and accidents that occur.

“Hell week” is not about becoming a brother or a sister, but about displaying power. “It’s not about brotherhood,” said Gabriel Maestretti, junior Chi Tau fraternity member and one of the convicted felons responsible for Carrington’s death; “it’s about power and control.”

The brothers and sisters that possess this control during “hell week” want to put partakers through what they went through and more. If they go too far why make the university pay for their actions? If the organization chose to put four leaders in charge then charge them for the loss of a loved one or family member.

Some of the dumb stunts that take place during “hell week” are dressing up as a prostitute and standing at the corner for a certain amount of time, and exchanging clothes with a homeless man, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Similar to Carrington’s case, a commanded activity may involve drinking a five-gallon jug of water that is filled repeatedly while having fans blow icy air onto his wet body just before urinating and vomiting on himself.

Universities can only close and shut down these organizations for a semester to a year but more than that needs to happen.

The temporary termination of a campus club will do nothing to console someone who has lost a family member.

More consequences need to take place and being able to make students pay for their actions by having victims and their families get involved is a step, having the university pay will only make students comfortable with what they are doing and do it continuously because they don’t have to suffer.

Make the college students who are a part of these organizations pay for their actions, because no matter the consequence nothing can be worse than losing a loved one. They are adults therefore they need to make adult decisions in which they can be accountable.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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