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Hazing: Nasty campus initiations continue

Published: Thursday, Jan. 16 2014 4:00 a.m. MST

In this photo taken Monday March 12, 2012, students walk across the Dartmouth College campus green in Hanover, N.H. More than a quarter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity's membership has been accused by the school's judicial council of hazing after a former member's public airing of what he says he experienced as a pledge in 2009, including being forced to swim in a kiddie pool of vomit and other bodily fluids.

Jim Cole, Associated Press

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Since 1970, at least one college student has died each year because of an initiation rite gone wrong, USA Today reported on Jan. 12. That figure doesn't address the number of students who suffer physical and psychological injuries.

"According to insidehazing.com, more than 250,000 students experienced hazing to join a college athletic team, 40 percent say a coach was aware of the hazing and 22 percent say the coach was involved," the story said.

Although many colleges, fraternities and sororities have hazing guidelines, "the hazing merry-go-round rolls on," the story said. The most recent death was last month at New York City's Baruch College, where Chun Hsien Deng, 19, was pummeled to death during a fraternity initiation game.

Hazing deaths are the visible tip of an expansive iceberg made up of horrific incidents. Last fall at Maryland's Salisbury University, frat members confined students in a basement, immersed them in ice water and forced them to drink alcohol during initiation to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Bloomberg.com reports. Sigma Alpha Epsilon has had nine deaths on U.S. campuses since 2006, more than any other Greek organization, the story said.

At Ohio's Wilmington College, the Gamma Phi Gamma fraternity will no longer be recognized after Tyler Lawrence, 19, was struck in the testicles with "a towel fashioned as a weapon" last November, according to an affidavit obtained by "The Smoking Gun." Lawrence required surgery to remove one of his testicles.

The Watertown Daily Times reported on Jan. 10 that seven fraternity members at the State University of New York at Canton were charged with hazing after a pledging process that included branding students with a metal hanger, rubbing hot sauce on their crotches and attempting to force them to eat excrement.

Susan Lipkins, a Long Island psychologist who specializes in conflict and violence on campus, told USA Today that tolerance for hazing at the high school level feeds the hazing culture on U.S. campuses.

"Hazing is alive and well in high school and it gets passed along later in life," Lipkins said. "I call it part of our 'vulture culture' where we differentiate between winning and losing and people are willing to suffer humiliation and abuse in order to be accepted.

"Unfortunately, kids coming out of high school are more ready to be hazed in college than they are to write a term paper."

Email: cbaker@deseretnews.com Twitter: @celiarbaker

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