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Editorial from Trenton Times

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Excerpt:

In a story in Sunday’s Times, reporter Darryl Isherwood de tailed advice given by the Fraternal Information Program Group to local fraternities and sororities in something called the Risk Management Manual. Under the heading “Crisis Mangement Plan,” the document advises fraternity members to immediately close down the house and restrict outgoing calls. Public announcement can be made only after a national representative arrives to assess the situation.

In one of the more chilling sections, the document tells members not to reach out to family members to offer sympa thy on behalf of the chapter unless they have permission from the national representative. In other words, close ranks and shut up because the last thing you want to do is blemish the name of the fraternity and possibly get sued. The FIPG, it turns out, was founded to deal with liability issues.

While there are examples of fraternities on campuses across the country that have cracked down on drinking and hazing, even outlawing them, there are too many more that haven’t. The students know it, the fraternities know it and college officials also know it. Yet little is done.

Douglas Fierberg, a Washington, D.C., attorney who has represented numerous victims of fraternity hazing and alcohol- related deaths, isn’t optimistic that things will change in the frat world. “For at least eight years, the industry has known that alcohol-free housing is the safe way to run a fraternity,” he said, citing a 1997 study done by an association of fraternities that recommended dry houses only. “But they won’t go dry. What they prefer to do instead is create a policy full of holes implemented by underage, ill- trained fraternity members who have no knowledge whatsoever of the dangers involved in managing alcohol policies in fraternities.”

Our area has seen too many tragedies that resulted from binge drinking by students. They have occurred at Princeton University and the College of New Jersey. It isn’t present only at Rider.

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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