Bullying

30 Frat Members To Be Charged In Hazing Death Of 19-Year Old And The Punishment Will Never Be Enough

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paddleI don’t know about all of you Mommyish readers, but since I became a mother, I have spent an inordinate amount of time day-dreaming about my children’s futures. I worry, I wonder, I giggle and sometimes, I shudder. Being a youngish mom, I remember my youth very clearly- both the good and the bad. I remember times where I desperately wanted to fit in with a certain group of people and I know I did things to make that happen that would have made my mom cry. Kids can be cruel, no doubt, and kids can also be very, very fucking stupid. Never underestimate that potent blend- the cruel and the stupid- because it is what can cause the most horrific things imaginable to occur.

A heart-breaking example of the cruel/stupid combo happened this past December when a group of fraternity members from Baruch college in New York City blindfolded 19-year old finance major Michael Deng and hit him over the head while he was trying to carry around a very heavy backpack. According to The Daily Mail, instead of rushing him to a hospital, these morons changed his clothes and searched the internet for information on head injuries while he lay dying. The fact that this young man possibly could have been saved had these monsters taken action and called an ambulance makes me ill.

These 30 fraternity brothers are currently facing potential homicide charges and also, hazing charges. I am not sure what the appropriate punishment is as the same frat culture that convinced Michael Deng he had to take part in this hazing ritual also had these boys convinced that what they were doing was acceptable. Groupthink is a very powerful thing, particularly for young people living far from home who want badly to belong. It would take a very strong individual to step in and put a stop to one of these rituals. I know from a brief pledging experience of my own that the members do everything they can to weaken you and make you feel that you have to do whatever they say in order to belong. That said, there is no excuse for watching a fellow student get beaten to death and not try to put a stop to it.

The police are still trying to piece together a digital account of the evening of Deng’s death. According to The Daily Mail, the police chief says “every video, photo, content and conversation” has been taken from the students, some whom allegedly tried to hide information.  I know the police cannot send 30 people to prison for murder but I do hope the digital reconstruction of the evening helps them to zero in on who was directly responsible and sentence them to the highest extent possible. I’m sure it will serve as little comfort for Deng’s family but at least they could know justice has been served.

As far as violent fraternity hazing is concerned, there is no excuse for it. And sadly, this is far from the only hazing death to make the news in recent years. There are plenty of other ways these groups can make members prove their worth that do not involve this sort of depravity. As I mentioned, I did pledge for a short time and while the sorority experience is not necessarily violent, it was still awful and made me feel like a shell of my usual self. I decided I did not need new friends badly enough to lower myself the way these girls were asking me to. I was also close friends with some frat members, one of whom tugged down his pants a little and showed me his dark purple behind from a night of paddling. He had “taken some paddles” for his little brother in what I assume was some sort of hazing ritual.

It breaks my heart that there are so many young people willing to put themselves through such an awful thing just to be part of a popular group. I hope I raise my children with enough confidence that they don’t feel they have to do something like that to have friends. I hope even harder that they never become the people who would murder someone just because someone else encouraged them to.

(Image: rhinogift.com)

You can reach this post’s author, Valerie Williams, on Twitter or via e-mail at [email protected]