I was horrified to read this morning's article entitled, "5 of 37 charged so far in hazing death", sharing the story of Baruch College freshman, Michael Deng who in 2013 was blindfolded and forced to wear a heavy backpack as future fraternity "brothers" tackled him repeatedly in a hazing ritual known as "glass ceiling", until he dropped unconscious, and died a day later.
As a mother of a college freshman it haunts and sickens me and reminds me of the 60 Minutes story of a freshman student in Colorado being hazed to death via alcohol. My heart breaks for all of the young men who have died from hazing, while just trying to belong.
It saddens me so to think of this young man stepping up to join a group, that through the fraternal RUSH social events and meet-and-greets, he had obviously come to like, trust and wish to be their fraternal brother, in an organization that he obviously admired. He was choosing them by wanting to join and agreeing to accept their terms. He held up his end of the bargain, he went to their rented house off campus, where he allowed them to blindfold him, probably nervous wondering what might befall him, but also probably trusting that the hazing he was about to endure wouldn't be that bad... that there exists an unspoken line that the "brothers in charge" would surely not cross.
Well, cross they did, and then shamelessly attempted to cover it up.
Yes, measures are being taken by the college and the fraternity, but soon after the media turns off their microphones to chase the next story, and the article becomes buried in the back of the paper, the world will forget. Young men will continue to rush fraternities in the hopes of being accepted, of wearing the greek letters of a social organization that they hold in great esteem, but they may do so blindly in the name of trust. Not all fraternities are just about the party. Wouldn't it be nice to hear of the great, philanthropic accomplishments of a fraternity and how as a team of bonded brothers, through a never-wavering, never-broken trust they solved a worldly problem...and not created one?
Well, now as each "brother" involved receives their sentence, I wonder if they too will stand, feet shackled, at the door of the prison, nervous about what might befall them, but realizing there isn't a trusted "brother" within the prison who will save them when the line gets crossed.
Such a sad, unnecessary and costly lesson for all. I pray for all of them and their families, more so, I pray we stop the bullying on the playgrounds, the cyber bullying and the collegiate hazing, because tears can't do it alone.