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Baylor University allegations from former pledge

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Hank Nuwer, who maintains a website that tracks hazing incidents and deaths, said he’s not surprised by the incident at Baylor, given its long history of hazing. Hazing was so common back in the 1930s that Baylor president Pat Morris Neff strictly forbade it. But as recently as 2020, the university suspended 14 baseball players because of a hazing incident. Nuwer said sometimes hazing investigations don’t paint the full picture of how much pledges suffer because older fraternity members lie about what happened.

“If the school can get an admission of hazing, they sometimes stop and don’t keep going, because it is a difficult process,” Nuwer said. “And so sometimes they’re happy to just get that admission.”

When institutions don’t hold students accountable or address hazing on campus, it often makes individuals who report hazing lose trust in the university, which only injures the institution’s reputation, Nuwer said.

Nuwer noted that students who report their fraternity for hazing are often seen as pariahs and end up transferring institutions, just like the Baylor student who reported Pi Kappa Phi.

“Those students now have to live with a relative or rent a place at a new school and start all over again,” Nuwer said. “It’s intimidating enough for a freshman, who’s typically a pledge, to come to a school and then to have this terrible experience. It’s unconscionable.”

The student’s father said he’s not sure what he or his son want from Baylor but that the university had an opportunity to make the situation right, and it didn’t.

“Baylor needs to demonstrate a commitment to holding its students and its student organizations accountable,” the father said. “And I don’t think that their reactions to this event or their response to this incident—where you have a clearly documented case of hazing and their sanctions are very weak—accomplishes that goal. And I don’t think it sends a very strong message to Greek organizations or other organizations engaging in hazing.”

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By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based 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.

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