Hazing News

A Death at Michigan State by Jennifer Smith of London Daily Mail

Here is the link to article dated June 10, 2012

Three Michigan State University students have been charged over the hazing death of a teenager who died last year from acute alcohol intoxication after being found passed out in his frat house covered in vomit and urine.

Phat Nguyen, 21, died in November after a brutal night of drinking at the Pi Alpha Phi off-campus fraternity house in East Lansing, Michigan.

Ethan Cao, Hoang Pham, and Andrew Nguyen were all charged with one count each of felony hazing resulting in death, and three misdemeanor counts of hazing resulting in physical injury for three other boys who were also taken to the hospital on the night of the incident but who survived.

The three students are due in court on June 23. All three have been released on bond.

After Phat’s death, the fraternity was suspended from the school.

Witnesses from the party said they found Phat in a ‘dirty’ basement room, ‘stripped to his shorts’ with writing on his back.

He was one of four pledges who passed out and had to be taken to the hospital that night – the other three survived despite being found with blood dripping from their noses, and ‘convulsing’.

Nuwer’s research – which involves interviews with fraternity brothers and psychologists – reveals that the entire act is underpinned by camaraderie.

‘There’s denial after the incident that occurs, a blindness among fraternity members just like the government in Bay of Pigs.

‘If you do something risky enough long enough something bad is going to occur, but they don’t see it coming. Interview after interview I find them surprised and I don’t think it’s faked surprise.

He said the only way to stop hazing is to stop the tradition of pledging – but colleges and fraternities are hesitant.

‘These slaps on the wrists are not helping anybody. I think it makes frat members arrogant and thinking. Everybody should have a good time but no one should die for a good time.

‘In doing the research and talking to people, [it seems] it’s a form of cheap entertainment – it’s a kind of domestic abuse. They call themselves brothers sons dads, it’s in a house.

‘We have to end pledging – end that power dynamic,’ Nuwer added.

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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