Hazing News

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

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 new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer, former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird, finished a stint as managing editor of the Celina Daily Standard to accept a new position as 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--

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