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Hazing News

Letter writer recalls dark days in California fraternity system

Prior to the deaths of Adrian Heideman and Matt Carrington at Chico State, there was the death of Jeffrey Long in a pledge-related hazing “accident.” This letter writer recalls the dark time following Jeffrey’s death. Thanks for writing. “Hi! I was at Chico State the semester following the death of Jeffrey Long. I made the mistake of pledging Sigma Phi Epsilon in spring 1984. The house was right

next to the Tau Gamma Theta house. I was able to piece together a bit of information in regards to that incident and hazing in general at that point. The TGs (Tau Gamma Theta), had no problem getting pledges the following semesters, until they were allowed campus recognition in fall 1985. The general feeling of most in the greek system was “it could have happened to any fraternity’. While true it could have, there was a lack of compassion or awareness to the death of someone. To put it another way, a complete indifference. The Inter Fraternity Council was made up often of junior actives, who were members of hazing fraternities, that viewed meetings as a waste of time, and did it as a way to earn their stripes so to speak. In other words a rather impotent entity. One fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau, had a big brother little brother drink off, that always resulted in the pledges being sick for days after. They even made t-shirts for it. I quit the fraternity I was in, in disgust at the beginning of the next semester, as did a number of other guys in it. I have not come across a college where hazing is policed by the campus administration or any student government entity. I went back to Chico State in 1998 to pursue another degree. Hazing was still rampant, and the administration had nothing but cop out excuses when an incident took place. If you have read this far, thank you. I hope you can heighten the public awareness that hazing still goes on.”

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--http://realalaskadaily.com and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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