It has been nearly two years since the hazing death of Phi Delta Theta pledge Max Gruver, yet nothing seems to have changed.
Former fraternity member Matthew Naquin was convicted in July on a felony charge for negligent homicide. Meanwhile scores of eager freshmen begin the recruitment process to join various Greek organizations. When football season starts, the same animalistic partying will continue unabated, albeit hidden from the prying eyes of an uninterested public at the call of the University.
Oh, how quickly we forget.
Regulatory change to protect students from hazing resulted from the incident, but it is not the type of meaningful change that achieves anything. The University instituted a medical amnesty policy, similar to a good Samaritan law, which allows students to report drug and alcohol related emergencies without fear of retribution. The Louisiana legislature passed the Max Gruver Act, which redefined criminal hazing as a felony and stiffened the consequences associated with the charge. Creating new policies and crucifying a student for his actions may feel like justice and change to many, but the real solution to end hazing is being an adult and holding yourself personally responsible for your own well-being.
Leaving the nest and coming to college is an exciting time for everyone lucky enough to experience it. We spread our wings and take our first daring flight into the real world with little more than fairy-tale expectations derived from movies and literature, but what do we really know heading into that first semester? It is difficult to be successful your first semester if you are all on your own, which is why student organizations can be invaluable as support systems for new college students. Nobody should have to suffer the stress and humility of hazing to join an organization that could help them through their college career, though.
According to the National Study of Student Hazing, 55% of students involved in clubs, teams and organizations experience some sort of hazing, but surely that number is higher due to the code of silence that many groups expect their members to abide by. It is understandable that pledges go along with this expectation because they are under so much pressure to fit in with the group. Inside Hazing surveys show that 40% of students admit to knowing about hazing activities, but 36% refused to report the hazing because, "there is no one to tell." Another 27% refused because believe that, "adults won't handle it right."
Why do we have to rely on other people to put a stop to this to begin with? Student organizations govern themselves for the most part, so it follows that they can eliminate hazing on their own if they wish. Nobody, including Naquin, is solely responsible for hazing and its consequences because it takes more than one person for hazing to occur.
Delta Kappa Epsilon ended its more than 100-year presence at the University in January 2019 after evidence surfaced that pledges had to lie on broken glass and be urinated on. Nobody truly forced them to do this. There were no reports of pledges being abducted and restrained against their will while this happened. Those pledges allowed this to happen to themselves.
If you want to join a student organization, you do not have to comply with this behavior. Have some self-respect and say "no" when somebody tries to coerce you into obviously dangerous and childish activities. Most of us are adults by the time we get to college, so we need to learn how to look after ourselves, especially when it has been proven time and time again that we cannot rely on our peers to do so for us.
Draven Coleman is a 21-year-old mass communication senior from Wesson, Mississippi.