America has a long, dark history of college hazing, with nearly 300 young students dying in accidents while being initiated into Greek life.
The latest incident to shock the country was the October 2021 hazing of Danny Santulli, a 19-year-old who survived severe alcohol poisoning but is blind and wheelchair-bound as a result.
Danny’s family lawyer David Bianchi described it as the worst case of hazing the country has ever seen.
“You can’t be injured anymore and still be alive,” he told DailyMail.com this week after filing a lawsuit against two of the students involved. While Danny survived, over 400 other children have not.
There is no official database for hazing deaths or injuries, thanks in large part to the blanket of secrecy immediately thrown on incidents by universities, fraternities and sororities.
Pledges are loaded into the back of a U-Haul van to be driven to a Northwestern University hazing event
The closest count to an official count is that of Hank Nuwer, a journalist who has covered hazing and has written multiple books on the subject.
According to his count, there were 281 between 1838 and 2022.
Three boys died in 2021 after schools reopened after a year-long shutdown due to COVID. There were no hazing in 2020 and so far not in 2022.
In recent years, the number of deaths from alcohol poisoning has risen. In all three suspected hazing of 2021, the victim died as a result of acute alcohol poisoning.
There was a brief hiatus in hazing deaths in 2020 as college campuses closed due to COVID-19.
With more and more kids running back to school, there are fears of a rise — and experts say hazing will be harder to control as more kids take the rituals off campus, out of the sight of the overseeing schools. them.
A 1905 article from The Albuquerque Evening Citizen describes how student Stuart L. Pierson was tied to train tracks and hit by a locomotive during a hazing ritual at Kenyon College
Adam Oakes (left) died last February at Virginia Commonwealth University from alcohol poisoning. Phat Nguyen (right) died at Michigan State University in November
“It’s all going underground,” Newar told DailyMail.com. He said the revival started in 1995 when the tradition of “passing the bottles” began.
It involves pouring an entire bottle of alcohol – normally cheap vodka – to drink in one night.
Newar’s research—which involves interviews with fraternity brothers and psychologists—shows that the whole act is supported by camaraderie.
“There is a denial after the incident that happened, a blindness among the members of the fraternity, just like the government in Bay of Pigs.
“If you do something risky long enough, something bad will happen, but they don’t see it coming. Interview after interview I find them surprised and I don’t think it’s a fake surprise.
He said the only way to stop hazing is to stop the tradition of pledges — but colleges and fraternities are hesitant.
“These slaps on the wrists don’t help anyone. I think it makes frat members arrogant and thinking. Everyone should have a good time, but no one should die for a good time.
“When doing the research and talking to people, [it seems] it’s a form of cheap entertainment – it’s a type of domestic violence. They call themselves brothers sons fathers, it’s in a house.
“We need to end the pledging — put an end to those power dynamics,” Nuwer added.
In another incident in 2019, Western Michigan University student Bailey Broderick was killed when she was hit by a van driven by a drunken vow performing one of his duties: transporting his fraternities around campus. Hunter Hudgins was charged with her death =
Stone Foltz, pictured with his parents, died last year during an alcohol evasion at Bowling Green State University
While alcohol poisoning is a leading cause of hazing death, it is not the only cause of the problem.
Drum Major Robert Champion was beaten to death in 2011 by students taking part in a hazing challenge
Other incidents include that of Stuart Lathrop Pierson, an 18-year-old who died in 1905 after being tied to train tracks as part of a hazing prank at Delta Kappa Epsilon at Kenyon College in Ohio.
A newspaper article from that year has the headline, “Was this student frozen to death?”
The coroner found that Stuart was either tied to the rails or somehow couldn’t get away fast enough when a locomotive train approached him.
In another incident in 2019, Western Michigan University student Bailey Broderick was killed when she was hit by a van driven by a drunken vow performing one of his duties: transporting his fraternities around campus.
In 2018, Collin Wiant died of suffocation after inhaling nitrous oxide from a whipped cream canister at Sigma Pi.
Five years earlier, students Marvell Edmondson and Jauwan Holmes both drowned after a night of drinking at Virginia State University. They had tried to swim in a river.
Hazing is a felony in 13 states if it causes serious injury or death.
Those states are Florida, Texas, California, Utah, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and New Jersey.
Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana do not have specific hazing laws.