Hazing News

Two past cases involving how much blame a pledge takes for his own death

The Christian Science Monitor raises some important questions about the role of a pledge who knowingly accepts a beating to gain admission into a group. While the author does a good job, he fails to note that the courts assigned a very small percentage of blame to pledge Chad Meredith following his drowning death. The courts in a South Carolina case made a ruling in the death of Barry Ballou for Sigma Nu at U South Carolina that being of sound mine he could understand that he was accepting hazing–but not to the point of death. On the other hand, New Hampshire law puts a burden on pledges to take responsibility for any hazing injuries they incur–along with responsibility to the perps. In this case, I am watching the court proceedings ahead as intently as everyone.  Both sides may decide to settlle the civil lawsuit–as is very common in such cases. The largest settlement to date was MIT and the death of Scott Krueger: $6 million.

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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