Hazing News

Missouri lawsuit highlights how close Kappa Alpha came to another hazing death

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Here is an excerpt from St. Louis Post-Dispatch

A former University of Missouri-Columbia freshman who was hospitalized last September with alcohol poisoning has sued Kappa Alpha fraternity and three of its members for negligence surrounding a hazing ritual.

Brandon Zingale was an 18-year-old pledge at Kappa Alpha when he was “coerced by active members of (the fraternity) to drink so much vodka that he nearly died” at the fraternity house in Columbia the night of Sept. 27, 2016, the lawsuit alleges.

After Zingale passed out, fraternity members left the freshman alone after putting him to bed and attaching a backpack in an effort to keep him from rolling over and suffocating. The next morning, Zingale was found unconscious and foaming at the mouth when paramedics arrived.

 His blood-alcohol content at almost 10 hours after he stopped drinking was 0.41 percent, more than five times the legal limit for driving in Missouri (0.08 percent). Zingale experienced acute respiratory failure, nerve compression and metabolic dysfunction, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Boone County Circuit Court.

Defendants in the suit include the fraternity’s national organization Kappa Alpha Order and its Alpha Kappa chapter at Mizzou. The fraternity knew of the risk of hazing traditions involving heavy drinking and did not do enough to prevent its members’ dangerous activities, according to the suit.

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 new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer, former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird, finished a stint as managing editor of the Celina Daily Standard to accept a new position as 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--

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