Hazing News

Article claims universities turned a blind eye before deaths occurred

Here is the link and an abstract


‘Occurrences of concern’

Nowhere on West Virginia University’s website did it say that Kappa Sigma fraternity had a history of, as the school now puts it, “occurrences of concern” — specifically referring to the fraternity “behaving inappropriately and hosting an unsanctioned event.” The fraternity was also warned about overcrowding in its off-campus residence.

Burch, a WVU freshman, died following a fraternity hazing event in November 2014. His blood alcohol content was measured at 0.493, more than six times the legal limit to drive. His death led to the suspension of all Greek activities at WVU and criminal charges against two Kappa Sigma brothers.

Two days before the event, where police say Burch and others were blindfolded and forced to drink liquor, the national office of Kappa Sigma notified WVU that it was pulling the charter of the local fraternity chapter. According to a statement given to CNN, the national office directed the local chapter to stop holding functions. But that directive was ignored, according to the fraternity’s national office.

“They’d been in so much trouble they (the national office) put cameras in the fraternity house,” Burch’s mother, Kim Burch, told CNN. “The frat actually installed cameras.”

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Kim and T.J. Burch say their 18-year-old son was not aware of the fraternity’s troubles when he decided to pledge. No one told him, and no one told his parents either.

“We had no idea, unfortunately, until Nolan passed, that there had been so many problems,” Kim Burch said. “It’s sad. It’s really sad. If we had known this was going on, we would have never let him join this fraternity.”

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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