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Letter: Teach students the dangers of irresponsible ‘pledging’

Unless you have been living in a cave for the past 20-odd years, you should be aware of the dangers of campus hazing. Suspending Greek life at the University at Buffalo doesn’t begin to address the need for accountability and education to avoid this kind of behavior on our learning institutions’ campuses.

In high school, where drinking first generally begins, there should be health classes that talk about what can happen to students when they pursue acceptance to a fraternity (or sorority) by being forced to drink to toxicity, engage in physical activity that is dangerous, and perform humiliating tasks.

This is also an opportunity to teach about accountability; students who participate in activities which cause injury or death should face the same penalties as people who cause the death of another by misadventure. If it is a gang member who causes a death by forcing someone to ingest something toxic, he goes to prison. It’s assumed, and probably accurately, that the gang member knows that this is wrong, illegal.

Why are college students presumed to be any less ignorant of the law? Why do we present them as having done “something stupid” and act as if it was just a childish antic? Somebody’s child died here. His potential “brothers” ran away. Only one had the decency to stay.

We need to treat hazing as important a health hazard as STDs, gun violence, suicide, and depression to students.

Why not start in the senior year, impressing upon students that acceptance that comes with dangerous strings is not worth the price that either the pledge or the fraternity member will pay. You’ll still have a degree when you graduate. And you’ll graduate. Alive.

Becky Arcese


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