Hazing has always been a part of fraternities and sororities, but does that make it okay? At a Cornell University chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, a member was tied up, hazed, and forced to drink vodka -- the 19-year-old student, George Desdunes, ended up passing out and dying. His blood alcohol level was .409 -- five times the legal limit.
The sophomore at the Ivy League school was found dead at the SAE fraternity house in February, but his mother, Marie Lourdes Andre, just filed her lawsuit. She's suing the fraternity SAE for $25 million for the wrongful death of her son.
But is the fraternity the only responsible party?
What about the students who kidnapped George, blindfolded him, bound his hands and feet, and left him for dead on a couch in the frat house? Granted they didn't realize he wouldn't wake up, but after the amount of alcohol they forced down his throat, maybe they should have been more vigilant.
Andres' lawyers point out that there have been five deaths in SAE chapters since 1997. After the incident in February, Cornell banned SAE from campus for five years and said that it's going to watch the lawsuit very closely. Is that all Cornell is doing? I wonder what happened to the students involved in this tragedy. Are they still enrolled?
The arguments for and against Greek life on college campuses are an age-old debate, but certainly still a relevant one. There are hot lines for sorority sisters and frat brothers to call if they feel hazed, and there are plenty of "zero-tolerance" rules about hazing, but yet it seems that every few months, we hear about another hazing-related death.
Listen, maybe it's time for colleges, fraternities, and sororities to step up their game. Maybe they're not painting a clear enough picture about the reality of alcohol-related deaths, and how they can ruin the lives of those involved. Maybe the kids who kidnapped George should go on a speaking tour during rush week and tell their story. What better way to get a point across than the fear factor?
George's mother deserves compensation if SAE is found responsible for the death of her son, but no amount of money will bring him back. I think it's time for a new approach to "zero tolerance."
What's your experience with hazing?
Photo via Lorizs Photos/Flickr