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Chico newspaper comments on new Chico State charges

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Editorial: Anti-hazing law sadly necessary
Chico Enterprise-Record
Article Launched: 07/12/2007 12:19:06 AM PDT

Some people just can’t seem to get a clue.

For them, we have laws.

Laws that state the obvious — don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t talk on the cell phone while driving — may seem unnecessary, but they were created for the buffoons who think it’s their right to do whatever they want, whenever they want.

Last year the state Legislature passed a law that banned hazing after a Chico State University student, Matt Carrington, died during a ritual in a fraternity basement. Hazing, strangely enough, wasn’t outlawed in the criminal code. Just as strange, it’s hard to believe there needs to be a law telling fraternity members not to injure, kill or humiliate their fellow “brothers.”

But there are always fools, and so there are laws.

The new law, Matt’s Law, affects all colleges in the state. The law has been talked about in this community and on campus. Everybody figured it would be a great preventative, and that some unsuspecting college student far away from Chico — somebody who hadn’t heard of the new anti-hazing law — would be the first prosecuted under it.

Wrong.

Three members of Beta Theta Pi in Chico have been charged with misdemeanor hazing, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey announced Monday. Ramsey said it’s believed to be the first prosecution in the state under Matt’s Law.

The fraternity’s charter was revoked by Chico State last month after an investigation into the alleged hazing incidents in April. Ramsey said fraternity
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members are accused of making pledges do calisthenics, crawl through mud and soak in ice water.

The three students who were charged include the fraternity’s president, vice president and “ritualist,” whatever that is. (It doesn’t sound pleasant.) Two are Chico State students and one attends Butte College.
We all hoped that hazing would go away once it became a criminal act. It hasn’t — which makes us glad it’s now a criminal act.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of 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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