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Starks letter to Tribune

Sorority coverage

Public Forum Letter
Updated: 06/24/2009 03:15:32 PM MDT

Several points were missed in “Sorority sister gets jail time, $1,000 fine” ( Tribune , June 17) about the hazing death of my brother, Michael Starks:

» The defendant, Whitney Miller, had six priors for underage drinking; Starks had zero. There is no basis to say Michael had been drinking for years.

» This was a fraternity/sorority hazing, with at least a three-year history. Sigma Nu was a corrupting institution; that’s why it is closed.

» Whitney Miller pleaded guilty and expressed sympathy and remorse, but afterward her lawyer made a statement to the press and blamed the victim. This negates her apology and sympathy.

» Since the victim cannot defend himself, it is disrespectful to blame him or for a newspaper to print that. That came from a defense attorney who just lost a case. It was spite.

There were many victims in this Utah State University hazing incident: Michael Starks, the other young people who participated and countless family members and friends. As a community, we need to stop hiding from what we do not understand and use this tragedy to start an honest dialogue about hazing, alcohol poisoning, underage drinking and the responsibility we have to those around us.

Georgie Starks

Salt Lake City

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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