Hazing News

“Let Me think about this” department

Sorry…I DID think about it. The idea below seems well-intentioned, but is absolutely foolish in my

opinion, Ms Stamato. Students are there in college to learn. NOT to be treated as lab rats.

As for the humor the columnist sees in the situation–pardon me for not laughing. Not when this article is connected to the alcohol-related hazing death of a Rider student and the subsequent arrest of two lower-level people in the Rider community. Hank Nuwer

Hazing, drinking and life on campus

Posted by Linda Stamato August 04, 2007 9:42PM

Categories: Hot Topics

College communities have been placed on notice, as the Star Ledger observed today, with the indictments of two Rider University administrators along with three students–for what amounts to culpability in the alcohol poisoning death of a student early this year in a fraternity house hazing activity, “big/little night,” on the Rider campus.

Criminal proscecution is rare in student drinking cases, but may become increasingly likely unless the problem is dealt with in the serious way it requires. Binge drinking on campus, in some quarters known as “the rum curriculum,” cannot be tolerated, treated as a fringe problem, or excused as a rite of passage for undergraduates on college campuses across the nation.

Before too long, we’ll be hearing about existing and new initiatives to deal with drinking on campus. A unique one surfaced recently in the Chronicle of Higher Education (August 3, 2007).
Two authors, Lawrence Douglas and Alexander George, report that they have uncovered an initiative at Lucifer College in Minnesota, that falls into the category, they say, of “thinking outside of the box.”

Lucifer is involving the faculty in what the college dean says is the institution’s effort to make binge drinking unfashionable. Faculty members bartend beer bashes in dorms, and students are invited to faculty cocktail parties, where they are encouraged to drink in the company of their professors. Preliminary studies–direct observation–suggest that in the presence of faculty, student consumption of alcohol is reduced dramatically.

The college has also inserted the subject of alcohol into the curriculum in a wide range of courses: There is Biology 18, “The Biochemistry of Booze”; English 24, “Drinking and the Poetic Muse”; History 38, “Repealing the 18th Amendment”; History 44, “The Inebriated Irish: Myth or Reality?”; Philosophy 4, “I Think, Therefore I Drink”; French 35, “Le Rouse et le Blanc” the Aesthetics of Wine”; and Russian 23, “The White Russian.” There is a drinking requirement with each of these courses and students are required by their honor code to keep a log of drinking assignments and vouch that all their drinking is on their own initiative.

There are companion all-college lecture series featuring various debates on alcohol-related subjects; among the students required to attend, consumption of alcohol, the authors report, has dropped considerably. A Ph.D. program in distillation science is under serious review and other activities, curricular and co-curricular, as well.

The point? By extending credibility to alcohol, its consumption will be suppressed.

With a firm tongue in cheek, the authors of “A Rum Curriculum” are attempting to focus serious attention on as far from funny a subject as one can get and in this they may well have the impact they seek. There is nothing quite as effective as well-developed humor to make a serious point. Indeed, I’m waiting to see Drew Sheneman’s contribution to the editorial page of the Ledger on this compelling, urgent problem.

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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