As we reach the end of the Spring Semester, it appears that there have been no hazing/pledging deaths among college students thus far in 2015. It looks like Spring 2010 was the last time we had a death-free semester.
However, there were two deaths, that I am aware of, that are worth tracking to see if additional information may connect them to hazing or pledging activities:
- On Wednesday, March 18th, Charlie Terrini, Jr. was found dead (The Daily Gamecock) at an off-campus house used by the Pi Kappa Alpha chapter at the University of South Carolina. Local police have said that the death is “suspicious” and the chapter has been suspended by the national organization and the school. Some reports have indicated that he was pledging the fraternity (Cosmopolitan), and the previous evening was a “big brother” activity. It was also St. Patrick’s Day. The Coroner’s report indicated that he died from “toxic” blood alcohol level (The State). I have seen very little follow-up in the news regarding this death, and the connection to a “big brother” activity is tenuous.
- In April, Damian Parks, a student at Bethune-Cookman University in Florida drowned in a late-night incident. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that the university was investigating to see if hazing was involved. He was caught in a current while swimming with a group of five at 3:00 in the morning. All five were members of a campus stepping team. Reports indicate that alcohol may be involved. Based on the article, it is unlikely that this was hazing, but more likely late night partying among friends.
Traditionally, the Fall Semester is deadlier when it comes to hazing/pledging. Hopefully the increased efforts to address serious hazing, and the increased awareness and publicity surrounding these activities, can keep 2015 clear of any hazing/pledging deaths for the first time, in a very long time.