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Why Hazing Will Always Be a Problem…unless a paradigm shift occurs

Here is my newest article.  Moderator Hank Nuwer in Madrid, Spain this week.

Note: Louisiana University President F. King Alexander failed to respond to requests for an interview regarding the high-alcohol deaths of students Max Gruver and Ben Wynne.

Brief excerpt follows:

This fall has seen another tragic death due to hazing. Maxwell Gruver, an 18-year-old Phi Delta Theta pledge at Louisiana State University, died hours after participating in a mock quiz designed to get pledges disturbingly drunk – fast. Charges have been brought against 10 fraternity members – one with a negligent homicide charge.

Gruver participated in the facetiously named “Bible Study” quiz, taking a snort of 190-proof alcohol each time he gave a wrong answer to questions about Phi Delta Theta’s history – a drinking game associated with prior fraternity deaths at several universities.

It is true that fraternities, bands and team sports provide a welcoming atmosphere for students who value the support and mentorship of older peers. They contribute to school spirit, provide student leaders and produce loyal, generous alumni. However, as I’ve often seen in the 40 years since publishing my first research on hazing in collegiate groups, this bonding process can exact a price.

Data I’ve collected for my latest book, “Hazing: Destoying Young Lives,”demonstrate that since 1954, with the exclusion of the year 1958, there has been at least one hazing death per year in U.S. colleges and secondary schools. Two deaths occurred prior to 1930 in elementary schools. The vast majority, however, have been in fraternities.

So why does hazing happen in the first place? And how can these unintentional homicides be prevented?

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of 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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