Hazing News

New York Times coverage on Rider case



Gary DeVercelly, the father of the Rider student who died, reached by telephone yesterday, criticized the university over what he saw as its role in his son’s death.

“The fact that a university employee was actually present when our son was being illegally hazed and more importantly was present when he needed timely medical assistance to save his life is outrageous,” Mr. DeVercelly said. “Our family sent Gary to school to learn, not to be placed in harm’s way and left to die. We are devastated.”

But Mr. Rommel said that Mr. DiDonato was a student manager of the fraternity house and not a full-time university employee.

About 500 students, fewer than 15 percent of Rider’s 3,500 full-time undergraduates, belong to five fraternities and five sororities, he said.

Mr. Rommel said that the two university officials remained on the payroll as of last night, and that no decisions had been made.

The university officials and students will be arraigned in the Mercer County Courthouse as early as next week, prosecutors said.

At the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house yesterday afternoon, Ted Schultz, part of a construction crew gutting and renovating the house, said that he had found videotapes of wild parties there. “Kids drinking, dancing, one kid pounding a bottle of Captain Morgan, throwing up in the hallway,” Mr. Schultz said.

Still, several students on campus said that university officials could hardly be blamed for students who drink too much. “If a student chooses to do it, that’s not the dean of students’ fault,” said Hamzah Abushabun, 18, a freshman.

Courtney Allen, 19, also a freshman, said that students had to police themselves and that Mr. DeVercelly was responsible for his actions.

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.

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