Hazing News

Extensive analysis of prison sentencing for fraternity members and historic ban on a national

Extensive CNN coverage of the Pennsylvania verdict against a Baruch fraternity and its national


“To a lesser extent it’s also a tragedy for Mr. Lam and the other young men. They never intended for this to happen,” he said, adding Lam had been “guilt ridden for his conduct since the day it happened.”
An attorney for Wong told CNN on Sunday, “Sheldon remains, and will always be, deeply saddened and devastated by Michael Deng’s death.”
Lawyers for the two other individuals could not be reached for comment.

Courts taking harder look at hazing cases

Some experts believe the prosecution and subsequent outcome of the Deng case is a signal that courts are taking a tougher stance on hazing deaths than they have in the past.
Hank Nuwer, a professor at Franklin College in Indiana and a journalist who has been writing about and tracking hazing deaths for decades, described the fraternity’s sentence as “groundbreaking.”
“I think it’s one of the toughest ever,” he told CNN on Monday.
“It’s sending a definite message,” he continued. “It’s sending a message that (national fraternities) are considered — by this court and by the judge — to be accountable when one of their pledges are killed.”
Nuwer previously said the verdict against Pi Delta Psi and the court’s handling of the case showed “huge changes” from when he first started tracking hazing deaths and the criminal proceedings around them in the 1970s.
“Judges are taking it more seriously,” Nuwer said Sunday, adding that lawyers who didn’t know how to bring a case against fraternities in the past now have greater understanding of how to handle such cases.
Doug Fierberg, an attorney for Deng’s family who has represented multiple high profile hazing victims in the past, previously told CNN the verdict showed that “national fraternities can and should be held criminal and civilly responsible for the injury and death caused by their members. The criminal prosecutions shows that can happen and should proceed that way and they can be convicted.”
The sentencing came after a deadly year for fraternity pledges. At least four young pledges died in 2017 on the campuses of Pennsylvania State University, Louisiana State University, Texas State University and Florida State University.

Pledge died during hazing ritual

Deng was a freshman when he traveled to a rented house in Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains for the Asian American fraternity’s “crossing over” weekend, according to a criminal complaint.
It was there Deng ultimately suffered and died from a traumatic brain injury while participating in “the glass ceiling,” a ritual that required pledges to run through a line of fraternity brothers who shoved, pushed and tackled the aspiring members to the ground.
At some point, Deng, who was blindfolded and wearing a weighted backpack, fell, struck his head and was immediately unconscious, according to police. Some fraternity members placed Deng by a fire while others searched the internet for his symptoms and tried to wake the pledge.
Meanwhile, the criminal complaint said, other fraternity members were told by a member and the national fraternity president to “protect the fraternity and hide all the memorabilia” from police — including clothes, fraternity paddles, banners and signs. They were also instructed to conceal cellphones, marijuana and mushrooms, the complaint said.
Deng arrived at a nearby hospital for treatment 2 hours after he was injured — a delay that a forensic pathologist concluded “significantly contributed to the death of Mr. Deng,” the complaint said.
Deng’s death was ruled a homicide.

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. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

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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