For those of you that haven’t heard, there was a terribly tragic accident last spring at Rider University here in New Jersey. One of the fraternities on that campus had a “big brother/little brother” night and as one of their local traditions, each family tree had a family drink. Sticking to this local, and stupid, traditional one of the new brothers literally drank himself to death from vodka. It’s a sad, sorry case where fault can be placed on everyone involved from the fraternity brothers to the young man who died after he drank all of these drinks.
However, one location where you absolutely cannot lay any blame is on the administration at the university. And, in case you haven’t seen this in the news, both the university Greek Advisor and the Dean of Students were charged with hazing in this case. Now folks, unless these two individuals either were present for this drink-fest or had prior knowledge of the booze night taking place, they are absolutely not liable at all by any stretch of the imagination.
This is akin to your boss getting a reckless driving ticket because you were swerving in and out of lanes the night before. It’s like comparing apples to t-shirts. It’s crazy.
As a fraternity man, I know that many undergraduates hide their less glamorous, local traditions. Incidentally, this is also why I’m glad to be a brother of Sigma Pi Fraternity – we’re systematically eliminating our bad traditions regionally and throughout the nation and replacing them with good ones. It’s a great thing to be a part of, really. That said, there is absolutely no way that these young men would have put this disgusting tradition out there for the school to see AND there is no way that, once knowing about this, the university would have let the students carry on like nothing bad was happening.
It just doesn’t work like that. That would be like Lee Harvey Oswald telling the FBI, “Hey, I’m going to pop Kennedy in the head,” and the FBI letting it happen. The system just doesn’t work that way.
Should the students who facilitated the young man’s death be charged? Of course. Should the administrators? Good Lord no! The people who are to blame here are the young man himself and the students who facilitated the act. That’s it. I fully believe that the administration’s charges will be dropped. And, if the university had any cajones, they’d go after the Mercer County prosecutor just like those young men down at Duke went after Mike Nifong.
Talk about prosecutorial aggrandizement…