Hazing News

Hazing Prevention Week essay by Alexandra Cumberland: Daily Texan

It’s time to end hazing, come to terms with past

My family and I are forever on the journey of losing Nicky, my brother and best friend — a devastating experience which only a few can truly comprehend.

This tragedy gave me reason to reflect on my life goals, and I feel a deep need to leave this world a better place, to honor the memory of my brother and give a voice to so many who are afraid to speak up for themselves. The experience has turned me into an activist.

So, I’ve spent much of the past year researching the psychological impacts of hazing, as well as learning how the culture of silence promotes, and possibly stimulates, the behavior.

I joined the advisory board of Parents and Alumni for Student Safety (PASS) — a nonprofit dedicated to bringing an end to hazing through advocacy, education and oversight. Our team lobbied hard for passage of new legislation to increase sanctions on criminal hazing conduct; for the first time, coerced consumption of an illegal substance or enough alcohol to cause intoxication is now a crime in the state of Texas. Also, district attorneys in the home county of the host institution can prosecute hazing crimes no matter where in the state they occur.

Goals should be aimed toward becoming better and encouraging others to be better. Our goal isn’t to dismantle or unduly criticize student organizations; instead, we want all aspects of campus life to improve. The term “tradition” used in the context of hazing is dangerous. Maintaining hazing in any form will not lead to better campus life.

I sincerely admire those kids and adults who admit they have been hazed or have hazed others but have learned from their experience and now disagree with the action and support ending it. Individuals who are brave enough to take action against hazing or speak out against it should be respected.

Instead, they are often shunned for simply speaking the truth. Silencing them only perpetuates the problem. My family, working with PASS, stands with them.

Now is the time for organizations of influence to step up, claim responsibility and lead the positive change.

It’s encouraging that several organizations have acknowledged publicly that there’s a problem with this culture and are determined to work with the families impacted to do something about it. We will work with them towards eliminating hazing.

Sometimes you must come to terms with what life hands you and make the most of what you get, coming out stronger than you were before.

If my family can do this, I believe student organizations can, too. My challenge to them is to #ENDHAZINGNOW.

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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