Hazing News

Scholarship from The National Study of Student Hazing and Gentry McCreary’s Blog Post

Moderator:  I am sharing academic Gentry McCreary’s excellent blog post with a link and excerpt.

See also Scholarship from The National Study of Student Hazing


Hazing’s Perfect Storm – The American College Fraternity

We are all familiar with the meteorological term known as the “perfect storm.”  It is that rarest of phenomena in which multiple weather abnormalities converge in just the right place at just the right time to create a weather event of terrific magnitude.  The term “perfect storm” has been generalized in modern culture as a catch-all phrase used to describe any situation in which circumstances align themselves to produce rare, and often dramatic, events.

The title of this article may lead you to believe that my intention is to suggest that hazing is uniquely a problem with fraternities.  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.  The National Study of Student Hazing demonstrated that hazing exists in a large number of organizations on the college campus.  The study showed that hazing is more prevalent in varsity athletics than it is in fraternities, and demonstrated that nearly half of all students involved in clubs and organizations in college have experienced hazing in high school.  Aldo Cimino ( has documented the evolutionary psychology of hazing, arguing that the hazing of newcomers in groups is ingrained in human behavior, and that virtually all groups engage in some form of newcomer hazing.  Hazing is certainly not a fraternity, or even a college, problem.

The NSSH findings, while exonerating fraternities from the title of “most likely to haze,” belie an inescapable truth – the most egregious cases of hazing, particularly those resulting in serious injury or death, belong almost exclusively to fraternities.  The obvious exception to this rule is the 2011 death of Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion, who died after being beaten in a hazing ritual known as “Crossing Bus C.”  In scanning the list of hazing deaths in the United States (, one must go back another ten years to find the next non-Greek casualty on the list – the 2001 death of University of Minnesota-Duluth rugby player Ken Christiansen.  During the ten years between Christiansen and Champion, there were 31 fraternity-related hazing deaths in America.  Sororities are certainly not exempt from scrutiny, as there were three hazing deaths in sororities during that same time period, but that number pales in comparison to fraternities.  The American college fraternity stands head and shoulders above any other organization on or off the college campus when it comes to hazing resulting in death.  No other group even comes close.

When confronted with these brutal facts, one must conclude that the American college fraternity brings together a perfect storm for hazing.  The rare combination of environmental factors present in the college fraternity converge to make it an environment that produces hazing of a terrific magnitude.  But what are those variables?  What about the college fraternity creates an environment so conducive to dangerous, deadly hazing?  Examining these questions and truly understanding the unique factors that contribute to the fraternity hazing culture is the first step in moving towards an effective fraternity hazing prevention strategy.  It is critically essential to understand what makes fraternity hazing so unique in order to properly address it.  This article offers an examination of two factors, unique to the fraternity culture, that contribute to hazing’s perfect storm.

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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