Hazing News

Rider case inspires a number of editorials and commentaries

These three are representative:

The Record scolds administrators

Excerpt: ”

It’s hard to believe that ritualized binge drinking could take place on a campus and someone in the administration wouldn’t be aware of it. Did university officials concern themselves with what went on at pledge initiations, particularly when pledges were under 21? If they didn’t, they surely should have.

Rider University dissolved its Phi Kappa Tau chapter last week and has taken other preventive steps, such as requiring live-in advisers in all fraternities when school resumes next month. Will that be enough to prevent future tragedies?

Colleges could crack down on underage drinking in dorms and fraternities far more than they do. Often the only acknowledgement is a toothless warning to students to be responsible. Perhaps a flat zero-tolerance policy for alcohol on campus would be more effective.

You can bet that colleges will be watching the Rider case with extreme interest. If they are a little nervous, that’s good.”

New Jersey Courier Post editorial

Excerpt: “It will likely be difficult to convict school administrators who weren’t at the fraternity house the night DeVercelly and another student drank enough to bring on alcohol poisoning.

However, if it is determined that school officials didn’t do anything to prevent Greek organizations at Rider from hazing freshmen pledges, then they deserve punishment, as well.

DeVercelly’s death was a tragedy that could easily have been prevented. This prosecution, we hope, causes fraternity members and college administrators across the state to rethink their practices and policies on hazing and alcohol.”

With the number of college students who’ve lost their lives in ways similar to DeVercelly over the years, the time has come to end the college tradition of older fraternity members forcing young pledges to abuse alcohol. The fact that it’s illegal notwithstanding, this kind of hazing has proven time and again to have tragic results.”


From the Philadelphia Inquirer

Excerpt: “Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph Bocchini said the college officials were culpable, though neither he nor the one-paragraph indictment explained why.

The notion that the morning-after consequences to campus boozing can include jail time should mean something to students (in their sober moments) and, above all, to college administrators everywhere.

Prosecuting Rider’s dean of students and its director of fraternity programs shows what a high-wire act trying to prevent binge drinking can be for college administrators.

Only presentation of evidence and trial can determine whether it was fair to charge the officials, who were not at the party. For now, it’s clear only that this dramatic step will spur other campuses to redouble their campaigns against out-of-control drinking.

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-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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