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Hazing News

Rider case draws commentary from Greek life professionals at Inside Higher Ed.

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sample comments below:

Feel free to post your own view here on the Rider charges.
OMG

I’m not one to back Student Affairs Brueaucrats, but do you know how much money this is going to cost universities if these people find themselves convicted or pleading guilty.

Look folks, every other advanced democracy has a lower drinking age than the United States. For all the bragging that goes on as to the number of lives age 21 has saved, I wonder who has calculated the costs of policing students, not to mention the fact that binge drinking has INCREASED since universities began cracking down on underage drinking in the early 1990s.

This will cost universities a fortune. The prosecutor should be ashamed of himself for using this case for political gain.

ts, at 7:55 am EDT on August 6, 2007

I have to disagree with the statement “Short of restoring the strict parietal rules that have disappeared from most campuses in the last half century…” in this article. It is a fact that in loco parentis rules were widely abolished about 40 years ago. They were nonexistent when I was a freshman in 1970. However, the crackdown on dorm drinking in the 90s brought back rules similar to those in place 50 years ago when my uncle attended the same school.

The biggest difference today is that we have more lawyers and helicopter parents who will notice if the persons enforcing those rules are “holding fraternities to a less strict standard than dormitories”, just as was often the case a half century ago. The question might be, just what part of university owned did you fail to understand.

1974 college grad, at 8:45 am EDT on August 6, 2007

Perhaps the Mercer County Prosecutor has been watching too many re-runs of “Law and Order.”

Skeptic, at 9:20 am EDT on August 6, 2007
Holy Cow

This is really disturbing. I’ve been in student services and student affairs for almost 20 years and this has to top it all. How do you justify charging administrators for hazing? Unless they were there chanting “turn it up, turn it up,” I fail to see the connection. If Rider is like most campus structures, they do as much as they can do to educate and provide a disciplinary structure for the Greek system and other areas of campus where hazing might be present. The individual Greek organizations are well informed by the nationals and their risk management experts.

Let’s face it, college drinking is out of control. Add group think and pressure tactics of an organization (I won’t just single out Greeks) and you’ve got a bomb waiting to explode. I wish the New Jersey officials would really address the issue instead of using a bully pulpit to scare administrators who are just working to make things better for students.

Kim, Director of Student Athlete Support at UT Chattanooga, at 9:35 am EDT on August 6, 2007

There should be a zero tolerance policy against hazing at universities. It is a stupid, sadistic and barbaric custom that needs to be stopped. If it takes prosecuting a couple administrators to get colleges to take it seriously than so be it.

Carol, at 9:35 am EDT on August 6, 2007
Rider University

It is a shame that it takes the death of an eighteen year old to bring to light the fact that many top level university officials grant the public image of their institutions a higher priority than the safety of their students. Treating eighteen to twenty-two year old students as “customers” often results in a prevailing campus atmosphere where “its fun to go to college”. Fun then can turn into frequent substance abuse, sexual assaults, Clery Act violations and attitudes like, “boys will be boys”. Hopefully this death and subsequent indictments may bring change as college and university presidents neither want to be indicted nor fired.

weegens, Associate Professor of Sociology at The College of New Jersey, at 9:55 am EDT on August 6, 2007
Administrators indicted in hazing death

The doctrine of vicarious criminal liability has no place in a free society, and this prosecutor simply is abusing the law. We saw for more than a year the abuse of law in Durham, North Carolina, with the indictment of three Duke students for a “crime” that never occurred.

Prosecutors in this country are out of control, and apparently no one wishes to rein them in. This case at Rider is just one more example of what happens when we permit prosecutors to be given near-unlimited power. Granted, New Jersey is worse than most states, but we can see just how prosecutors are able to do whatever they want with almost no fear of consequences.

Yes, Michael Nifong ultimately was punished in the Duke case, but he was only one of thousands of prosecutors who abuse the law on a daily basis. This indictment in New Jersey is a very, very sad day in the working of law in the USA. Unfortunately, most people will agree with the prosecutor.

William L. Anderson, at 11:00 am EDT on August 6, 2007
Prosecutorial Indiscretion?

The “hazing” charge feels like a foot in the door for a prosecutor who is really challenging tolerance for underage drinking on campus. That would make it the latest salvo in a battle that has not abated since the 21-year-old legal drinking age became national policy a generation ago.

Law enforcement officials deride administrators for ignoring the law. Student services personnel respond that they are trying to balance enforcement with reality. To do otherwise, they often add, would be an abdication of responsibility that puts students at further risk and destroys their own credibility with a clientele that has been drinking all through high school. That, the other side responds, amounts to enforcing one law for privileged frat boys and sorority girls and another for everyone else.

This issue — last visited here when erstwhile Middlebury President John M. McCardell and Harvard lecturer Henry Wechsler went a few rounds over it last spring — is still a long way from resolution. But it IS troubling that, armed with prosecutorial discretion, Mr. Bocchini has turned a legitimate policy debate into a criminal case.

Edward Hershey, principal at Edward Hershey & Associates, at 11:00 am EDT on August 6, 2007
If you only knew.

I’m not here to bash anybody’s opinion. I just want to speak about Dean Campbell. He was one of the most caring individuals you would ever meet. A real stand up guy.

If you had a problem with financial aid, a class, a teacher, a roommate, personal problems or anything that a college student or adult would face. HE WAS THERE FOR YOU DAY OR NIGHT. He allowed 24/hr access to him. He always made that clear. He would say don’t worry if you need to talk or need advice im always here no matter what.

It seems the Prosecutors office is trying to make a point. He is the Dean of Students. They are probably going to accuse failing to fulfill his job duties or some broad charge similar.

In the coming weeks I guarantee you will see an overwhelming support of current/previous students, parents, faculty and staff for Dean Campbell.

I do not know Director of Greek Life Ada Badgley but im sure they are attacking her on the same basis.

RIDER ALUMNI Class of ‘03, at 12:45 pm EDT on August 6, 2007

1. Teenagers do sometimes die from alcohol poisoning because they’re inexperienced drinkers or dare each other. But drinking during fraternity hazing rituals is different. These events are planned, in advance, by identifiable organizations with members, officers, and so forth. People like Anthony Campbell who defend irresponsibility typically conflate the two, ignoring the role of the fraternity in not just encouraging abuse but organizing and enforcing it.

2. If colleges have authority over fraternities, they have responsibility. Dorms have resident minders plus campus police. Again, it’s not like this kind of fraternity violence is unpredictable or random: it’s chronic and organized and the worst offenders are always well known. Student affairs officials who turn a blind eye are accessories before the fact in moral terms, and it’s not clear why the law shouldn’t treat them as such.

3. “Requiring members of Greek organizations and athletic teams to attend a session discouraging hazing” was: (a) an effective intervention (b) a pious hope © administrative CYA

1980’s grad, at 12:45 pm EDT on August 6, 2007
Rider University

When it comes to colleges and universities, we often see a two tiered justice system in place. Off campus, this incident would constitute a felony. When it occurs on campus and higher status people are involved, suddenly it is no longer considered a felony and prosecuters are challenged instead. We see similar examples with sexual assaults where perpetrators (especially athletes) if anything, may be sent for anger mangement or given community service. Off campus, non student perpetrators may be sent to prison. Student Life folks are often caught between a rock and a hard place. They are likely to want to follow their professional ethics and prosecute the perpetrators but instead must follow orders from above in order to keep their jobs. On many campuses we see a “we educate them, not punish them” justice system in operation. Off campus, a punitive system of justice prevails. I also wonder if Rider University has followed the letter and spirit of the law in regards to the Clery Act. Recently, the President at Eastern Michigan University was fired for Clery Act violations. Change is in the air.

Howard Robboy, Associate Professor of Sociology at The College of New Jersey, at 1:10 pm EDT on August 6, 2007
What about personal responsibility?

When I was in college 25-30 years ago, if we violated the rules or broke the law, we were in trouble. Not the school. Certainly not the Dean who told us not to drink in the first place.

Colleges have dorms and recognized organizations, establish rules about what can and can’t happen in those dorms and when the organizations meet. So when people violate those rules, because the college makes rules, they’re also to be held responsible for the behavior of the violators? Absurd. Cities and towns have laws regulating alcohol consumption…if this happened among non-college students in a non-college facility, would the prosecutor indict the chief of police? Is a violation of a law the fault of those who are supposed to enforce it?

But in this era of $40,000 price tags, perhaps people believe they have the right to expect colleges to know what every student is doing at every moment.

DS, at 2:35 pm EDT on August 6, 2007

I must admit that while the statements below are true I have had personal interaction several times with Dean Campbell. He is an amazing man. He has committed himself to the University, he lives on the campus, and you see him go home sometimes not even until midnight. In one meeting with him I went in to talk to him hoping that the next week I could follow up. He pushed back all of his meetings on a friday afternoon at 4pm and stayed with me until 6 to resolve the issue. Well after University closing hours. On the other hand University faculty give much privelege to those that live “Greek”. They are given better housing situations, have more say in what goes at the school, and are considered to be “the end all and be all” of campus life. Regular dorm policies are very strict and alcohol is monitored extremely closely by Resident Advisors however, on several trips to the Fraternity houses you can see that there is absolutely no monitoring. Campus security drives by the buildings that blare music and through window syou can see 200 or 300 students dancing and drinking. None of the ages of these people are monitored and most are freshman and sophomores who fall under the legal drinking age. While I do not believe that Dean Campbell should be charged, the University is responsible for seeing that the students are monitored and that underage drinking does not occur on their campus. Security is located directly next to Phi Kappa Tau house, drive by atleast 4 times an hour and can hear noise all the way from the other side of the campus. Why are the rules never enforced there but are so strictly enforced in the dormitories?

Current Student, Current Student NOT A GREEK at Rider University, at 3:15 pm EDT on August 6, 2007
Hazing

Having attended a University without fraternities (there were then no women students, so sororities were a moot issue), I snobbishly think of “Greek” as a concern of the classics department, yet I have taught for decades at a university with a very strong fraternity and sorority presence. It has not endeared me to “Greek life,” as it is amusingly called.

Yet if it is to be tolerated in its cliquish and superficial state, it should do so only without hazing, a practice that has a somewhat justifieable form only in boot camp (Break their spirit and make them obedient soldiers. I have been there.). It is silly to charge administrators when an officially tolerated practice becomes fatal when a student drinks three-quarters, rather than half, a bottle and dies. The problems with hazing are dangers not only to the body but also to the minds of the frat rats and pledges who practice this ritual humiliation.

David, at 3:20 pm EDT on August 6, 2007
reply to a previous post

Everything wonderful said about Dean Campbell is extremely true. That man would cut a leg off for one of his students. Amazing things are to be said about Ada as well.I recently graduated as a greek student and have a problem with a previous posting from Current student, NOT A GREEK at rider univesity.

This current student said:

“On the other hand University faculty give much privelege to those that live “Greek”.”ok…the faculty, unless they were greek themselves, tend to be a bit harsher on greek students because they lump them into the stereotype of being partying lazy students, and yes, some of them are, but what college student independent or greek isn’t from time to time? I worked hard in my classes and received no special treatment for being greek.

Further in this post: “They are given better housing situations”the residences of greek life are treated the same by the school as any residence hall. I spent half of my career at Rider in a residence hall, and half in a residence hall and to be honest, things got fixed and cleaned a lot quicker in dorm life than greek life. sure, we live with all of our friends, and we have a lounge and basement…but you can find pool tables, big screens, and air hockey tables in the residence halls given by the university (it’s rare to find that in greek housing).

“Campus security drives by the buildings that blare music and through window syou can see 200 or 300 students dancing and drinking. None of the ages of these people are monitored and most are freshman and sophomores who fall under the legal drinking age.”I have never seen 200-300 people in a fraternity house. ever. yes, the basements of the houses can get crowded but monitoring is performed by house managers and presidents of the organizations. Open parties were stopped by the university long before this tragedy occured. At most, parties were held were open to greek students and those monitoring who entered had registered the party with the university and was responsible for wristbanding 21 year olds (upon seeing an ID and verifying on a list of students given to them by the university).

and the last comment that irked me: “have more say in what goes at the school, and are considered to be “the end all and be all” of campus life.”EVERY student at rider has a say in campus life. if you want a say, join student government association or residence hall association. those are the student run organizations who are the liason between students and administration. greek life only comprises 13% of the student population (and that includes academic fraternities such as those in business, science, or education). why would the university cater to that small percentage. It may appear that it’s based on greek decisions because many of the (ELECTED BY THE ENTIRE STUDENT BODY) students in those positions are greek. the administration hears concerns from all students through SGA and RHA… actually.

None of the administration should be roasted in this event. They have done their best to enforce Rider’s Zero Tolerance policy on hazing. Public Safety performs walkthroughs of every greek house (not just drive-bys) and the national organizations of each of the fraternity and sororities monitor rider’s chapters closely.

Alumni. Class of 2007, rider student who IS greek, at 5:45 pm EDT on August 6, 2007
In a haze

I know, it’s quite silly of me to wonder how the words “hazing” and “higher education” manage to be side-by-side in the same article. But I’m certain someone can offer a helping hand … so please, the purpose of hazing is for …?

Michael, at 8:20 pm EDT on August 6, 2007
Wasting time…

I read the news on this site regularly and never comment; however, I’ve reached a breaking point when it comes to “Greek” issues on campuses nationwide. When will we get wise and simply abolish these organizations like they should have been years ago? Perhaps this is a narrow-minded view, but I see very little good come from the associations of young men and women who choose to waste their educational years partying. Sure, there’s something to be said for having fun in college, but I don’t see these organizations contribute much to either the campuses on which they reside or the communities around these campuses. And before anyone tells me otherwise, I can say that I have worked (rather unwillingly) with Greek students for years at a college, also in New Jersey. The community service projects they participate in often serve no purpose other than to give them (and no doubt, the campuses that sponsor them) a better reputation. On my campus alone (and I know other schools have faced them), they portray themselves as sometimes racist and often cliquish and exclusive towards non-Greek students and it is clear to EVERYONE who works with these students (even to the Greek advisor) that they regularly engage in dangerous behaviors that present a risk to the entire resident population.

There may have been a time when fraternities and sororities were acceptable and even useful on a college campus, but I would argue that this time is long passed. Is it too much to ask that our students focus on their academic work and the contributions they could make to the community?

Angry Admin., at 1:00 pm EDT on August 7, 2007

Charging these administrators with hazing is ubsurd! Are they expected to know the whereabouts and actions of all the students on their campus 24-7? Administrators are not “student babysitters”…even though many parents (and in this case the prosecuter) may think so. The drinking culture on many campuses is quite unruly and I’m not sure what these two administrators are supposed to do about that…if someone had the magic bullet to this problem, all campuses would have grabbed hold I am sure. Let’s get real here!

I completely disagree with the notion of abolishing fraternties and sororities as mentioned by another post as well…is that really the right answer? What about student development here? How about working with the organizations that are commited to their purpose (there are many out there!)and challenging those that do not. I am all for removing the chapters that are not on board with their purpose and are not living it…but must stand up and be a strong advocate for those students that are doing it right!

Unbelievable!, at 2:00 pm EDT on August 8, 2007

I am an alumnus of Rider University ‘99 and was a member of the Greek life throughout the 4 years I was at Rider. I knew Ada personally for all 4 years. She is a very, very responsible individual and was always willing to make changes for the better. It is unbelievable that her & Dean Campbell are being charged with the tragic death of Gary. It certainly is the responsibility of the brothers at the fraternity who were present at the time of the party. Nobody except for the ones who were there knows what happened. THEY are the ones who could have prevented this tradegy. And in previous comments made by some Rider current student -I know when I was at Rider, which was not too long ago, I went to a number of parties at the fraternities. The campus security was ALWAYS breaking up the parties. The fire alarm would be pulled to clear out the house or what not. If the Mercer County prosecutor wants to charge the 2 adminstrators with the tradgey, then that opens the door for any school adminstrator to be charged — which is not right. I fully support Dean Campbell and Ada. Hopefully there is a positive outcome for them. My heart goes out to the DeVercelly family for thier loss.

Melissa, at 11:10 am EDT on August 10, 2007
Listen to yourselves!

Which of you work in Higher Education? Which of you does it as a life-passion, a craft, or even a “calling”? What is the basis of Higher Education and what purpose does it serve?

It is astonishing to read some of the arguments that are coming from a lack of reasoning and understanding from some of the “Higher Ed. Administrators”. Are you too industrial about your careers now? Have you forgotten what the basis for Higher Education is all about?

Higher Education is given it’s term not simply because it’s what happens after High School. Higher Education comes from the belief that at this point, our students are at the brink of adulthood. It’s an understanding that in all persons exist some levels of leadership, compassion, good-will, and the eagerness to achieve greatness. Why else would they and their families go through the laborious process of applying for admission to their school of choice? It’s something that they obviously believe in…

Students aren’t quite fully independent, however, we tell them that they are accountable for their own actions/behaviors. They are to respect the laws of the state, the ordinances of the borough, the policies of the institution, and the guidance of their own faith/beliefs/upbringing. Where these things coincide is an incredible mesh of values, principles, and an understanding of servant leadership. Higher Education presents all of this to its students. It asks them to find themselves in a way that they were (probably) never afforded the opportunity to. When they misfire or make a mistake, it’s about do-overs. Absolutely because it is Higher Education and not the “outside world”. Greek Life, for those of you who understand it enough to respect and admire its many legacies, is about just that. The comments made about Greek Life being a waste of time or resources are obviously made by those individuals who never got beyond the ritual book, the website, or the manuals. Shame on you! This nation was founded by Fraternity Men. Nations, Political parties, religions, organizations, and yes, even institutions have been founded by members of such societies of association…that which Greek Life derives from. Perhaps it is you who is need of some Higher Education.

Learn to educate the whole student and not just what you have read about in preparation for your thesis or your dissertation. Get to know them as individuals…don’t forget that you were once one yourself-just as capable of doing something stupid and irresponsible. The bottom line is that students are adults, they are people no different that you or I, except that our society has granted them opportunities to go through 4,5, or even 6 years of do-overs before they break out of the gates and do what it is they we have trained them to do. That is what success is built from…trial and error. I am not forgetting the immense tragedy that has occurred through the death of a student. We have all had to face it through many different occurances. However, let the punishment fit the crime. The Fraternity should be closed and the students should be indicted; simply based on the facts of the occurance.

However, we as administrators must realize that at any given point, these same incidents can occur on our campus. Are we reacting through emotion and distaste? or are we accepting that our repsonsibilties are never alleviated?

It’s adaptability, a change in the course. Greek Life, no different in this matter than Student Life must adapt accordingly. The administration of Rider must do the same. Beyond that is nothing short of impossible.

We must re-group, re-think, re-train and begin to re-educate. We cannot point the fingers at anyone else but ourselves. This is our life-passion, our craft, our “calling”.

Admin. Not From Rider,

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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