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

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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