Two hazing deaths at the beginning of 2021 added to the ever-growing fraternity hazing body count. Since 2000, there have been 50 hazing-related deaths in the United States. The fraternity hazing deaths of Adam Oakes in February and Stone Foltz in March have increased the number of people killed in such incidents in the prime of their lives.
The most commonplace causes of fraternity hazing deaths are:
The two young men killed in recent pledge rituals died as the result of alcohol poisoning.
Both of the most recent fatal fraternity hazing cases have a familiar fact pattern. Pledges are coerced, enticed, or forced to drink an unhealthy and potentially deadly amount of alcohol. Pledges are rendered unconscious as a result of the excessive amount of alcohol ingested. In need of immediate emergency medical intervention, no one obtains assistance and the young men die.
Had the men been provided appropriate emergency medical assistance, the thought is that they would have survived alcohol poisoning. In other words, fraternity members appear to have aggravated an already virtually untenable situation by failing to make an appropriate medical intervention when pledges were in life-threatening distress.
States have enacted laws, universities and colleges are crafted regulations, and fraternities have enacted rules – all designed to bring an end to fraternity hazing. And yet it continues. Every year, young men are injured in hazing rituals, and sometimes seriously so. With alarming frequency, fraternity pledges are killed while being hazed.
State laws pertaining to hazing are likely to be revisited in some states in the aftermath of the pair of fraternity deaths early in 2021. There is a growing consensus in a number of states that while there are laws on the books prohibiting hazing, these statutes lack much in the way of sanctions for violating their provisions. Some have equated sanctions in anti-hazing laws to be akin to tickets issues in regard to people speeding in their cars.
Hazing in a college setting is not confined to fraternities alone. Some sororities engage in illicit and harmful hazing practices as well. Hazing extends beyond the confines of the Greek system as well. Every year, hazing cases are reported in other student organizations, including athletic teams.
Some experts on college and university student life are now beginning to wonder whether fraternities and sororities can continue to exist without hazing. Because of the failure of state laws, college and university regulation, and Greek organization rules, speculation continues apace in regard to what more possibly can be done to bring an end to harmful and even deadly hazing short of shuttering fraternities and sororities.
The fact is that an increasing number of fraternities have found themselves permanently suspended on different college and university campuses across the country. In many cases, national or international Greek organizations have participated in imposing sanctions, even suspension on local fraternities.
Many colleges and universities now require fraternity and sorority members to participate in what they are calling “anti-hazing training.” The two schools at which young men died have indicated that they are initiating immediate anti-hazing training for students who are members of fraternities and sororities.
If you’ve been injured as a result of fraternity hazing or if you’ve lost a child as the result of this misconduct, The Doan Law Firm is here for you. You can reach us through our fraternity hazing lawyer hotline at (800) 349-0000. Our phone lines are staffed around the clock, 365 days a year, including all major holidays.
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