Hazing News

Today: a day of sentencing in Michael Deng death

Excerpt from CNN

The outcome of the Pi Delta Psi case could also have an impact beyond Pennsylvania, said CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson, who predicted a “chilling effect” on universities and fraternities nationwide.

“I think there’s a reckoning here,” Jackson said, comparing the attention placed on recent hazing deaths to last year’s #MeToo movement, which became a “tipping point” in how the public addresses sexual misconduct.

“For whatever reason, this has reached a crescendo, and we’re focused on it now,” Jackson said. “I think you will see forceful prosecutions in other jurisdictions and I think they can learn a lot from prosecutions in Pennsylvania.” Universities, he said, will pay attention.

Hank Nuwer, a journalist and professor at Franklin College in Indiana who has been tracking and writing about hazing deaths since the 1970s, agreed with Jackson’s assessment.

Nuwer said the verdict against Pi Delta Psi and looming sentence “strengthens the arsenal” for cases like Piazza’s and others involving hazing.

Parents of victims and activists “don’t think there’s enough being done” in these cases, Nuwer said, and are pressuring courts to take a harder look at hazing deaths than they have in the past.

“Judges are taking it more seriously,” said Nuwer, adding that lawyers who didn’t know how to bring a case against fraternities in the past now have greater understanding of how to handle such cases.

“I’m seeing huge changes from 1978 when my first article appeared,” he said. “These are important cases right now. That’s going to be interesting to see how magistrates and juries look at fraternities now.”

Hopefully, Jackson said, whatever sentence Pi Delta Psi receives, “it deters other fraternities” and ensures they enact policies to protect members and pledges.

“They’ll learn from the lessons of Pennsylvania,” Jackson said. “You’re going to see aggressive prosecutions until this stops and that’s the way it is.”

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based 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.

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