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Why hazing happens and how to stop it

Marie Andre's son, George Desdunes, died from being hazed at Cornell University in 2011.
Marie Andre's son, George Desdunes, died from being hazed at Cornell University in 2011.

Every year between 1959 and 2021, at least one person has died from hazing.

The pervasive and sometimes deadly practice is commonly associated with Greek Life organizations on college campuses but also happens in other student organizations, workplaces, and middle and high schools.

In a new documentary, “Hazing,” filmmaker Byron Hurt contends with his past as both a victim and a perpetrator.

In late September, Virginia Commonwealth University agreed to pay nearly $1 million to the family of hazing victim Adam Oakes, a 19-year-old who died of alcohol poisoning while pledging a fraternity last year.

Also in late September, four members of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity at the University of Missouri appeared in court. They’re being charged in the hazing incident that left 19-year-old Danny Santulli blind and paralyzed last year.

But will settlements and prosecutions curb such an entrenched problem? Why does hazing happen and what can be done to stop it?

Copyright 2022 WAMU 88.5

Avery Kleinman