Hazing News

Changes noted by New York Times in Greek Life checks at PSU and LSU

Here is the link and an excerpt:

By Kyle Spencer

  • Fraternity members at Louisiana State University adhere to age-old rituals, shrouded in secrecy, that dictate how they gather, greet each other and initiate their young pledges.

But when they return to campus in the fall, one ritual will be drastically different: They will face much more severe consequences for dangerous hazing incidents.

In May, eight months after the death of Maxwell Gruver, a freshman pledge at the university’s now banished Phi Delta Theta fraternity chapter, Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana signed into law an anti-hazing bill that would make it a felony for those involved in hazing that resulted in death, serious bodily harm, or life-threatening levels of alcohol. And students found guilty could land in a Louisiana jail for up to five years.

The new law represents an important departure for Louisiana, which once had some of the most lenient anti-hazing laws in the nation. But it also reflects renewed efforts around the country — in state legislatures, inside courthouses and on campuses — to prevent the hazing injuries and deaths that have plagued college campuses for decades.

“Realistically, the answer is regulation and reform,” John Hechinger, the author of “True Gentlemen: The Broken Pledge of America’s Fraternities,” said during a panel on Greek life last week at The New York Times Higher Ed Leaders Forum. “That is really the only possibility.”

There has been at least one school-related hazing death each year in the United States since 1961, according to Hank Nuwer, a Franklin College journalism professor and the author of multiple books on hazing. Most, but not all, have occurred during fraternity initiation events.

But in 2017, four students, including Mr. Gruver at L.S.U., Tim Piazza, a 19-year-old at Pennsylvania State University and Andrew Coffey, a 20-year-old at Florida State University, lost their lives in hazing-relating incidents. Mr. Coffey died on a fraternity house couch after drinking an entire bottle of bourbon during Big Brother Night. In each case, multiple students were charged.

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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