Hazing News

Utah update

By Ethan Thomas

LOGAN ­ One of the 12 Utah State University students charged in connection
with the alcohol poisoning death of fraternity pledge Michael Starks was
sentenced Monday in 1st District Court.

Grant Arthur Barney, 22, pleaded guilty last month to obstructing justice,
a class B misdemeanor, and was sentenced to serve eight days in jail and
pay a $1,025 fine. Barney will also be on probation for one year and will
be required to perform 100 hours of community service.

Barney was originally charged with obstructing justice and one count of
hazing, but the hazing charge was later dismissed.

Barney’s attorney, Shannon Demler, told the Deseret News in March that
Barney did not take part in the alleged hazing, but he did throw away some
bottles of alcohol that were consumed the night of Starks’ death.

Starks, 18, died after participating in an initiation ceremony for the
then-USU chapter of Sigma Nu. The initiation involved Starks and another
pledge being “kidnapped” by the Chi Omega sorority women. An affidavit of
probable cause states that the pledges were stripped down to their boxers
and painted in USU school colors.

Sometime during the activity, they began drinking, prosecutors say. They
returned to the fraternity house already heavily intoxicated, and a few
hours later, Starks was found unconscious and not breathing.

Starks was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly afterward.

Last month, another student, Sadie Green, 19, pleaded no contest to one
count of hazing. Charges have been dropped against three of the 12 students
originally charged in January.

Seven other USU students charged in the case have court dates scheduled in
the coming months.

© 2009 Deseret News Publishing Company | All rights reserved

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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