Hazing News

Why does hazing continue

Perceptive article by Alexandra Robbins, an author


Hazing, as practiced in most places, is wrong. It is unethical, it is dangerous, and it is a crime in 44 states and Washington, DC. Yet 73 percent of Greeks are hazed, according to the most recent large-scale hazing study, which, granted, was published in 2008. Binghamton University was so plagued by hazing complaints in 2012, including allegations that fraternity brothers were waterboarding pledges, that the school’s former assistant director of Greek life told the New York Times, “My entire tenure from start to finish, I was scared to death that someone was going to die.” Sure enough, in 2017, freshman pledge Conor Donnelly fell to his death while trying to climb a balcony at an Alpha Sigma Phi party. (Investigators ruled that while hazing was not involved, alcohol was a factor in his death.)

Between 2010 and 2017, at least 17 pledges died from hazing by university-recognized fraternities and at least two more in underground or local fraternities, according to hazing expert Hank Nuwer’s extensive research. The most frequently reported hazing behaviors among college students involve alcohol consumption, humiliation, isolation, sleep deprivation, and sex acts, a recent Association for the Study of Higher Education report revealed. Jake, a pledge whose story I closely followed for a year, experienced many of these.

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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