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If student deaths won't stop fraternity hazing, what will?

   March 13, 2021 1:50 AM
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by Ben Kesslen

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The recent deaths of Adam Oakes and Stone Foltz have ignited renewed calls for Greek life reform, but questions remain if reform will be enough.

The story is eerily familiar.

A college student eager to make new friends and find a community decides to pledge a fraternity. To gain entrance, he has to suffer through a series of hazing rituals. One night, he is forced to binge drink, getting blackout drunk. By morning, he's dead.

His family is devastated. His hometown mourns. The college calls it a preventable tragedy and says it might start a committee to investigate hazing. The national fraternity chapter categorically denounces the practice.

The parents appear on TV; through tears they say how greatly they will miss their son. He was their light. He had so much ahead of him. The coverage dies down, but the grief remains for those closest to him. Eventually, the community forgets — until it happens again.

And it always happens again.

Since 2000, there have been more than 50 hazing-related deaths. The causes are varied — heatstroke, drowning, alcohol poisoning, head injury, asphyxia, cardiac arrest — but the tragedies almost always involve a common denominator: Greek life.

On Feb. 27 and March 7, two more names were added to the abject list: those of Adam Oakes and Stone Foltz.

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