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NACADA Journal

NACADA Journal Volume 21 (1 & 2) Spring & Fall 2000 119
Book Reviews

Patricia Callaghan
Academic Advisor
Donnelly College
Nuwer, Hank. (1999). Wrongs of Passage: Fraternities,
Sororities, Hazing and Binge Drinking.
Indiana University Press. 348 pp., $37.95. ISBN 0-
253-33596-5.
In a sometimes shocking and eye-opening look
into the ritualistic behavior of fraternities and sororities
in the United States, Hank Nuwer reviews the
disturbing and undying trend of hazing and binge
drinking in college fraternities, sororities, and other
campus organizations. While Nuwer includes
numerous accounts of hazardous ritualistic activities,
some resulting in the death of a student, he also
includes insightful observations by members of
several national professional fraternal organizations
as well as from friends and family members
of affected students. These commentaries provide
an initial framework for understanding why fraternal
organizations continue to engage in such
risky behavior. In addition, the reader will be introduced
to the reasons these risky behaviors have
endured over many generations of college students
and why, regardless of the attempted interventions
of university personnel, fraternal risk-management
staff, and countless number of other concerned
individuals, they continue today.
Usually, the activities of student organizations
such as fraternities and sororities are positive influences
in students’ lives and contribute to the overall
development of students while in college.
However, when dangerous rituals and hazing activities
take place, academic advisors may find themselves
as a confidant for students currently involved
in questionable organizational activities. Advisors
may also be the first to see a change in students’ academic
performances and be in a position to question
them further about the causes of their academic
decline. Therefore, advisors would be wise to have
at least a cursory understanding of the historical significance
of fraternal rituals and the continued pervasive
nature of these rituals today. Wrongs of
Passage will provide advisors with this information
and better equip them to work with affected students.
Armed with such information, they may
begin to press for changes on their campuses to
reduce the prevalence of these hazardous activities
that have ruined the lives of so many young people.
As mentioned, Nuwer presents some shocking
information about ritualistic activities in fraternal
organizations. Obviously, many positive outcomes
from students’ participation in Greek life have been
documented, and Nuwer is not in the position of
slamming fraternities as a whole. However, he does
want to bring the secret activities of fraternities to
public awareness and he does a fine job in reaching
this goal. For an in-depth look at some of the
seedier activities of Greek life and some of the
consequences of those activities, I highly recommend
Wrongs of Passage.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of 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.

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