Hazing News

A cruel, race-driven hazing of two black athletes 21 years ago surfaces anew.

Moderator:  The first link will take you to a disturbing story that happened at a University of Minnesota branch campus at Morris. An assistant coach and white players dressed as KKK as their hazing for two black teammates.

#2    21 years later, former athlete Michael Morris, now a successful youth worker, recounts that night.

I had just broken a school wrestling record, and the assistant coach asked that I join him and other players for a celebration later that night off campus. On that brisk Halloween night in 1993, the assistant coach drove me and two other wrestlers down a pitch-black road where we came upon a large cross on fire surrounded by several men with white sheets over their heads. I immediately felt my heart sink. Before I could say anything, the coach turned the car around, concerned for our safety. As we headed in the opposite direction, the men in white sheets blocked the road. The coach grabbed a bat and opened the door.

We pleaded with him to stay in the car, but he didn’t listen. Mark, the other African-American wrestler in the car, looked at me in disbelief. At this moment I was prepared to fight for my life. As Mark and I slowly walked behind our coach in the dark of night, we heard a voice say, “Just give us the (n-word in plural) and we’ll let you go!” The man repeated himself twice, and as the coach began to respond, we suddenly heard gunfire: Click, click, boom! The coach fell to his knees, wiped his white shirt, which appeared to be covered in blood, and chokingly said, “Run for your lives!”

As I turned to run, all I could see were Mark’s white shoes kicking up dust as he fled from two people chasing him. I ran toward the car, 15 feet away. From the way it was positioned, I hoped to jump into the passenger door and slide to the driver’s side. But the door was locked. The men in white sheets ran toward me at full speed. I could either run or break the window; I chose the latter. After two unsuccessful attempts, I shattered the window with my elbow, dove into the car and drove off.

I was bleeding, praying and asking God for his protection. I sped away at more than 100 mph to the nearest town. When I got to the main street, I pulled into a gas station and jumped out of the car, forgetting to put the car in park. I frantically called 911 — I was terrified!

Minutes later, the assistant coach and several players arrived at the gas station laughing and saying, “Happy Halloween.” I stared in disbelief and took a deep breath. I was confused and stood in silence for about a minute and then asked, “Where is Mark?” One player was laughing, while another responded, “We can’t find him. Let’s go before the police come.”

By then the police were walking through the doors. I explained to an officer what had happened, and saw that the coach and players were being interviewed by other officers. At this moment Mark was still missing. I began to think maybe this was no prank. With my mind spinning, I didn’t trust anyone. My confusion turned to anger, so I called a trusted upperclassman from Omega Psi Phi, where I was a fraternity pledge. Within minutes, he dispatched men to the gas station, dressed in the fraternity’s signature purple coats and gold boots. It was not until then that I felt safe. Hours later, I learned Mark was also safe, having hid in a tree until help arrived.

In response to the incident, other law enforcement officials got involved and the coach and players were arrested, all claiming that it was nothing more than a prank. The incident caused racial tension on campus for weeks. To the school’s credit, they reacted responsibly and I felt supported. University officials did what they could to address the situation and put me at ease.


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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 new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer, former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird, finished a stint as managing editor of the Celina Daily Standard to accept a new position as 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--

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