Cornell verdict highlights college hazing, again

The New York Times reported that on Tuesday, June 26, three Cornell students accused of hazing and killing George Desdunes, a fraternity pledge, were acquitted. The court found the three men not guilty because there was no way to determine how much the student had had to drink before partaking in a fraternity ritual. Although the men were not found guilty, the defense lawyer argued,

I emphasize that there are no winners, because someone is dead and the family is in pain, and frankly, the lives of three young men are irrevocably harmed.

This case not only lacks a winner, but the tragic death and subsequent trial are yet another incident in a long line of college hazing stories. Hazing deaths occur with uncomfortable frequency on all college campuses and in all societies. The New York Times writes,

Mr. Desdunes’s death focused attention on the rituals that some fraternities and sororities undertake when inducting new pledges. National studies indicate that hazing — dares or challenges that often involve binge drinking and even violence — is common on college campuses across the country. In November, a drum major at Florida A&M University was beaten to death in what the Florida authorities described as a marching band hazing ritual; 13 people have been charged in his case.

Desdunes’ untimely death highlights the mistique surrounding college alcohol consumption and its use in hazing rituals. Students who go to college without an understanding of how to consume alcohol appropriately. As many hazing cases indicate, alcohol then becomes the tool used to initiate new members and the results of not teaching responsibility can be deadly.

2 Responses to “Cornell verdict highlights college hazing, again”

  1. Edwin Bonilla Says:

    Without the practical knowledge of alcohol responsibility, young women and young men who are in college are at risk for being killed because of hazing. A better culture should be formed in greek life because students should be better respected and not treated as people to be kicked at.

  2. Ajax the Great Says:

    Hazing (with alcohol or otherwise) is stupid and is a symptom of an overall toxic culture. And Greek life is basically an exaggerated microcosm of the larger culture in general.

    Ever notice how countries like the UK, Australia, and most others are virtually devoid of Greek organizations? Even in Canada, while they do have some fraternities and sororities, they are far less prominent than they are over here. Notice a pattern here? The drinking age in these countries is 18 (or 19 in some Canadian provinces), while it is 21 in the USA. If and when the USA finally lowers the drinking age to 18, most of our Greek organizations should get ready to have a big going-out-of-business party, as their services will no longer be necessary here. However, those academic and service-oriented Greek organizations whose main raison d’etre is something other than partying and getting wasted would likely continue and flourish.

    Let America be America again, and lower the drinking age to 18. If you’re old enough to go to war, you’re old enough to go to the bar. ‘Nuff said.