Hazing News

This Week in Hazing: In Memoriam Tyler Cross, Harrison Kowiak, Michael Starks

A new feature on — an attempt to put up a hazing calendar with key events by week and possibly by day.

ovember 17 Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledge and University of Texas lacrosse athlete Tyler Cross died in a 2006 fall while intoxicated. It took many months before an investigation linked his death to hazing.

November 18. Harrison Kowiak died at Lenoire-Rhyne in a foolish and dangerous game of “jump-on-the-pledge” football this day in 2008. He suffered a head injury and died. Mr. and Mrs Brian Kowiak settled recently with the school and Theta Chi National.

November 19 India’s court system tracks 70 cases of hazing (ragging in India) during the 2007-2008 school year, spurring demands from the public for hazing and ragging legislation.

November 20 In 1988, Sigma Tau Gamma enacted antihazing policies.

November 21. Michael Starks, a pledge, died from alcohol poisoning in a hazing incident involving the Utah State chapter of Sigma Nu and a campus sorority. His family has been active in changing Utah’s hazing law, among other hazing causes.

November 22 The Boulder Beer Company in 2005 touts its Hazed and Confused brand despite the death in Boulder of fraternity pledge Gordie Bailey in 2004 at the University of Colorado. The beer is still on the market.

November 23 Five Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brothers at Fort Valley State College were charged with battery in a five-hour hazing-related beating with paddles and canes in 1989. Spin Magazine later criticized FVSC (Georgia) for doing way too little in the wake of the attacks. Hazing allegations consistently have plagued FVSC by other fraternal groups over the years since 1989.

November 24 Four Russian border guards received sentences of up to 23 years for the death of one conscript and severe injuries to others in 1998.

November 25 A hazing incident involving a battle between freshmen and sophomores at Vanderbilt was the main source of news for the Vanderbilt Hustler in 1907.

November 26 In 1999 the Chronicle of Higher Education published my op-ed piece on cultlike hazing in fraternities.

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 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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