A West Virginia University student died Friday after suffering a “catastrophic medical emergency” inside a fraternity house in Morgantown, W. Va.
Nolan Burch was 18.
Students told local media the incident might have been hazing-related.
In response, WVU suspended all Greek Life activities Thursday.
Local media said the fraternity, Kappa Sigma, had been under suspension for hazing as recently as 2010.
A drum major for the famed Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Marching 100 band was beaten to death in a hazing ritual on a FAMU bus.
The band, which performed at Super Bowls, was suspended for 21 months.
On Sunday, allegations of hazing broke regarding the University of North Carolina Charlotte baseball team. The situation is under investigation.
Hazing has a long, troubled history within the nation’s Greek Life, student organizations and athletic teams.
In 2008, a University of Maine study found 55 percent of students who joined a collegiate organization experience hazing.
But reports of hazing are uncommon at North Dakota State.
“We have not encountered any hazing incidents since I have been president,” said Macy Royston, president of the Panhellenic Council for the last year. The council is the governing body of all on-campus sororities.
“NDSU has a very unique Fraternity and Sorority Life that is different from the public or mainstream view of Greek communities,” Royston said. “… The hazing incidents you hear about on the news are incredibly tragic, but very unlikely in our tight-knit community.”
The NDSU Code of Student Conduct calls hazing “any action or situation that intentionally or unintentionally endangers a student for admission into or affiliation with a student organization or group.”
Examples include “paddling in any form; creating excessive fatigue; (and/or) forced consumption of any substance.”
This “substance,” is often alcohol, which a New York Times piece described as “the not-so-secret ingredient” to hazing.
A study conducted by Harvard University in 2000 estimated 80 percent of fraternity and sorority members in the U.S. are binge drinkers, which is defined as consuming five or more drinks within two hours.
In a 2012 study specified at NDSU, nearly 53 percent of students said they partook in binge drinking within the last two weeks.
All fraternity and sorority houses at NDSU are dry.
In the house
Brad Bischof, now president of FarmHouse fraternity, has been a member since his first semester at NDSU.
He said he has never been involved in, experienced or witnessed a hazing incident within FarmHouse or the Greek Life community since fall 2011.
“I don’t believe this is an issue within my house and our community,” Bischof said, citing good communication and set expectations with the university.
At FarmHouse, potential members must go through a 12-week program to “properly educate” them about the fraternity. Rituals take place, but Bischof said they do not violate rules.
“Internationally, our organization has an open-ritual policy that would allow any non-member to walk in and view how we practice our ritual and initiation processes,” Bischof said. “I think all these pieces deter and aid in the prevention of hazing.”
FarmHouse, like other fraternities on campus, strays away from using “pledge” for a new recruit.
Instead, FarmHouse uses “new members,” which, Bischof said, “symbolizes he is a person of high character.”
“Education and advocacy”
NDSU fights hazing through preventative action and punishing offenders.
Royston said Panhellenic works with the Interfraternity Council to “prevent hazing through education and advocacy.”
Greek Life hosts “Greek 101” every semester. All new Greek Life members must attend the seminar, she said.
Janna Stoskopf, dean of student life, said in her 15 years at NDSU, hazing incidents are uncommon.
“I think it is important to be vigilant about continuing to educate organizations about hazing and risks associated with it,” Stoskopf said.
However, she warned of its silent nature:
“Hazing is usually kept pretty quiet by the individuals involved, and no campus is immune from the potential for an incident.
“So in addition to being proactive with education efforts it is essential if we become aware of an allegation, that we take it seriously and investigate it promptly and thoroughly.”
Royston said NDSU has its own anti-hazing slogan: “The Herd Doesn’t Haze.”