As of today, it has been 13 months since the last college student died due to hazing or pledging activities. It looks like 2015 could be a year without a hazing/pledging death.
Does that mean that we have solved the issue of death due to hazing? Of course not. 2014 had seven hazing/pledging deaths, several of which are currently working their way through the civil court process. The courts are also in the midst of processing criminal charges related to the death of Michael Deng (Pi Delta Psi/Baruch College CUNY) in 2013.
While it is encouraging to make it through 2015, we really need to see several years with no deaths to claim progress. I am confident that much of the work to address hazing has been impactful. However, it is also likely that the increased attention paid to fraternities, and the high-profile hazing cases may have an impact.
We also need to be aware that additional information can arise from civil lawsuits related to incidents we are not aware of at a later date. In the past couple of years we have seen cases added to the list two or more years after the fact.
It is also important to note that there are still several other issues that need our attention in the fraternity/sorority world. This year-end list of “worst bro moments” from The New York Daily News has some examples.