Fraternity Sued $25MM for Hazing Death

Posted: June 30, 2011 by jerkmag in VAULT -- archives
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This past February, a 19-year-old Cornell Student named George Desdunes, was in the midst of pledging to the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon when a “hazing ritual” went fatally wrong. He was tied up by freshman pledges and asked intense questions regarding the fraternity’s history. For every question answered wrong, he reportedly was forced to do sit-ups or drink alcohol. According to police reports, Desdunes passed out from the hazing.

Rather than being taken to the hospital, he was put into the fraternity’s library where he was then left on a couch. (And they call themselves brothers.) He was pronounced dead the next day after a housekeeper found his body and called the police. His blood alcohol content level was five times the legal driving limit.

According to the lawyer for Desdune’s mother, Marie Lourdes Andre, who is now suing SAE for wrongful death, this is the fifth death reported by SAE since 1997. Cornell has withdrawn their recognition of the fraternity for five years, which I believe is complete bullshit. They should forever lose recognition. This is not a statement against SAE on a national scale, or against Cornell. This is a statement against that specific chapter of the fraternity that cannot seem to keep their pledges alive.

This story makes me question what goes on behind closed doors at frat houses, even more than I have in the past. Hazing is a serious issue. It is one thing to be a little standoffish with your pledges, as you are the brothers/sisters of the house, but forcing them to drink, do drugs and physically beating them is stupid. I don’t understand it, and no one with a brain should be able to either.

I don’t look at a guy in a fraternity and think, “Wow, he is so tough because he was able to withstand physical abuse by the drunken tree sloths he will soon call his brothers.” I think it is much more admirable for a guy to walk away from hazing and realize that there are other things to do with his time than walk around like elephants, drink until their blue in the face and snort God knows what just to “prove his manliness, “as they like to claim as the reason for such behavior.

-Julia Fuino

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