Highlight on Hazing
Father, brother of hazing victim visit college to educate against the deadly crime
By Andrew Walker
The Franklin student newspaper, Franklin College (IN)
William Meredith watches video of his son Chad playing little league baseball. The nearly 30 students in the room see the father beam as Chad drives an inside fastball over the left field fence.
â€œChad would never talk the talk,â€ William said. â€œHe would always walk the walk. Everyone on his teams knew he was a quiet leader.â€
Chadâ€™s baseball career at Warren Central High School led him to the University of Miami in Florida, a school nationally known for college baseball.
Things then took an ugly turn for the worse.
Chad Meredith cramped up crossing a small lake in a 2001 fraternity hazing, and, while under the influence of alcohol, he drowned in just over six feet of water.
National Hazing Prevention Week is Sept. 24-28. Franklin College Professor Hank Nuwer, author of four books on hazing, decided to have William Meredith and his oldest son, Jerry, discuss Chadâ€™s situation and the dangers of hazing with two Franklin classes.
â€œThis was the first time that weâ€™ve ever been to a classroom,â€ William Meredith said. â€œOur main purpose is to get the word out and let people know about how there is such an undercurrent about hazing in our society that is just not talked about.â€
Freshman Kia Arion is a student in Nuwerâ€™s LA 112 Sports Journalism course.
â€œIt was really sad hearing Mr. Meredith talk about his son,â€ Arion said. â€œIt is just sad that it all had to end when he was so young, and to have such a tragic death like that makes it even worse.â€
Freshman Aaron Hommell said that Meredithâ€™s story might have given him a different perspective as he pledges for a fraternity in the upcoming weeks.
â€œI had not heard of the death of Mr. Meredithâ€™s son prior to that class,â€ Hommell said. â€œI will be joining a fraternity this fall, but I will tell you right now, hazing surely will not be a part of my experience.â€
Tracy Maxwell, Executive Director of the website HazingPrevention.org, said that hazing does not necessarily have to be deadly to make its mark.
â€œStudent deaths from hazing are tragic, but I would like students to focus on the everyday pain and hurt caused by these practices,â€ Maxwell said. â€œ[Hazing] injures self- esteem, causes a great deal of anguish and has no place in organizations who espouse leadership as one of its main goals.â€
Jerry Meredith said that many of these organizations sweep hazing under the rug.
â€œPart of the reason that the story is not out there is because nobody is talking about them,â€ Jerry Meredith said. â€œThose that are hazing, they are pushing that this is not to be spoken about, and there is some secrecy there.â€
Nuwer was a witness to an athletic hazing initiation at the University of Nevada-Reno that later was repeated and ended in a death. He said witnesses to hazing have two options.
â€œYou can call 911 if you canâ€™t handle the situation right there,â€ Nuwer said. â€œOr try to get another bystander to come in there with you to say just two words: â€˜far enough.â€™â€
Franklin Athletic Director and Head Menâ€™s Basketball Coach Kerry Prather said although there has not been a history of hazing here, last year he thought it was important to initiate a school-wide hazing policy.
â€œ[Hazing] has become an important topic of conversation at all levels of athletics,â€ Prather said.
â€œWe chose to get ahead of the issue and be proactive.â€
Because of the Chad Meredith Act of Florida, the Sunshine State now has one of the toughest hazing laws in the United States.
â€œThe one good thing that can come out of our sonâ€™s death is to get the word out — to let people know about [hazing], and risks and dangers,â€ William Meredith said.
Recently, two men began serving two-year sentences for a hazing beating at Florida A&M.
â€œChad loved to hit against the tougher competition,â€ William Meredith said.
Chad Meredith can touch them all.
With his law, he has hit another home run.