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Creating awareness out of tragedy

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Victim’s father warns about hazing dangers
March 14th, 2009 @ 6:20pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The family of a Utah State University student who died from drinking too much alcohol visited downtown Salt Lake Saturday to raise awareness about the dangers of hazing.

George Starks, the father of 18-year-old Michael Starks, stood outside the Gateway next to a large photo of his son. Michael died late last year after drinking too much alcohol at an initiation event for the Sigma Nu fraternity.

Saturday George Starks said, “It’s an issue that surpasses Utah. It’s an issue that’s bigger than all of us locally. It’s a national problem and issue that we have to address.”

Starks says hazing like that is not uncommon.

“Hazing is going on all of the time in different states constantly. It’s something that gives Utah a chance to dig in its heels and say, ‘This is something that’s intolerable and we’re going to deal with it,'” he said.

This week, one of the 12 people charged in Michael Starks’ death pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Ten other students still have charges pending against them.

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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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