Hazing News

Arrogance or answers in Idaho: A freshman pledge dies swimming with members and Detective Mike Deitrick with the Clearwater County (Idaho) Sheriff’s Office apparently goes with his gut on drowning case: Our Opinion

I wrote to Det. Deitrick and U-Idaho school studauthorities regarding the death of a Lambda Chi Alpha pledge named Preston W. t affairs Vorhauer, a freshman of 18, out “swimming” with senior members just because –well dunno why, that’s the point. I wanted to make sure this wasn’t like the more than a dozen drowning incidents of pledges out with members that we saw at the University of Miami (Chad Meredith) and the University of Texas Cowboys (death of Idaho resident Gabe Higgins under mysterious circumstances and a fraternity coverup), UCLA and elsewhere. Total silence from Detective Mike Deitrick with the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office. And so now I turn the inquiry over to Attorney General Lawrence Wasden of Idaho and a great Lambda Chi Alpha staff for which I wrote a recent article for an all-hazing issue. Was this just a couple boys out for a swim or was there any pressure on a pledge to prove himself to older members? No disrespect to the University of Idaho, nor Mr. Deitrick or the Sheriff, but U-Idaho has had its historical hazing and alcohol issues, most recently the death of Benjamin Harris swilling shots for his 21st birthday with Sigma Nu members. This is too suspicious a case to put to bed without investigation. Detective Mike Deitrick and Greek affairs at Idaho are either too busy or whatever to respond. I don’t plan to let this death rest on a deputy’s gut feeling and will FOIA them until they respond with facts and results of whatever interrogation of witnesses that was done or not done. This case may have been sufficiently investigated but all that has been reported is Mr. Deitrick’s apparently gut feeling. My gut feeling? The public deserves more facts. But this sounds like a great chapter. Let’s make sure.

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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