Hazing News

Investigative Reporting by Columbus Dispatch and Lima News (Mike Wagner): Why so few hazing arrests?

Interview with Hank Nuwer and startling statistics on a lack of arrests after college hazing is reported.

Link: Columbus Dispatch

Link Lima News


ATHENS — Fraternity brothers at Ohio University whipped their pledges with belts, pelted them with eggs and forced them to chug a large bottle of vodka in less than an hour at what was called “Blackout Monday.”

A pledge at Miami University reported to the school that he was blindfolded and beaten with a spiked paddle that caused cuts and bruising.

A parent detailed how fraternity brothers at Ohio State University slipped drugs into their pledges’ drinks to make them “freak out, vomit and make fools of themselves.”

Universities took action against the fraternities, including suspending or expelling the organizations. But despite a law enacted in 1983 making hazing a fourth-degree misdemeanor in Ohio, no one has been criminally charged in any of the cases.

A Columbus Dispatch examination of records dating back at least 25 years in the municipal courts located near Ohio’s largest universities found only five hazing charges.

This includes city and county municipal courts where hazing charges might be filed against students attending Ohio State University, Ohio University, Miami University, University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, University of Dayton, Wright State University, Cleveland State University, Kent State University, University of Akron, Bowling Green State University, University of Toledo, Youngstown State University and several other smaller colleges located in those jurisdictions.

There were two hazing charges in Bowling Green, in 1988 and 2008, one in Cleveland in 2006, one in Athens in 2009 and one in Akron in 2014. No hazing charges are on record in Franklin County Municipal Court in Columbus.

“You have students being assaulted, embarrassed, shamed and, in some cases, dying in these hazing rituals, but most of the time they aren’t facing criminal consequences in Ohio or around the country,” said Hank Nuwer, a professor at Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana, near Indianapolis. He tracks hazing deaths and is author of the book “Hazing: Destroying Young Lives.”

“The problem is the culture, and unless these frats are afraid they will be abolished or some of them might go to jail, it won’t change,” Nuwer said.

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. 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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.