University hazing rituals take a deadly turn in the United States

Charges have been levelled against those involved in the hazing cases; even basketball star Jeremy Lin has experienced bullying on the court

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 May, 2017, 10:09pm

There is a scarcity of literature on bullying at the tertiary level because students are already adults, and the assumption is that they are independent and mature enough to take care of themselves, says City University professor Dennis Wong Sing-wing, an expert in the study of bullying. As such, he says, researchers tend not to devote many resources to this field.

But that does not mean bullying in tertiary education does not exist.

Earlier this year, 19-year-old Timothy Piazza died after participating in a hazing ritual at a fraternity at Penn State University in the United States.

More than 1,000 charges were levelled against 18 members of his former fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, which was supposed to be alcohol free. Eight were charged with involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, according to CNN.

Those charged are accused of forcing Piazza to consume dangerous amounts of alcohol.

Security cameras showed Piazza falling down a 15-foot flight of stairs shortly afterwards and then crashing into a railing and down the stairs again.

A preliminary hearing for the 18 is expected to take place in June.

In 2013, a student from Baruch College in New York City also died after a brutal hazing ritual.

Four men facing the most serious charges in the case pleaded guilty earlier this month to voluntary manslaughter.

Members of the Asian-American Pi Delta Psi fraternity admitted they physically abused Chun Deng and then tried to cover it up as the 19-year-old lay dying in their rented house in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, about 150km west of New York.

Police have said fraternity members blindfolded Deng, forced him to wear a heavy backpack and then repeatedly tackled him during the hazing ritual, known as the “glass ceiling”.

In 2012, Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old student at Rutgers University in New Jersey, jumped to his death from a bridge after discovering his encounter with a man had been filmed by his roommate using a hidden webcam and was shared with other people.

Even professional basketballer Jeremy Lin has experienced bullying.

Despite his abilities, he recalled fans, opposing players and even an opposing coach hurling racial slurs at him during the four years he played for Harvard University’s basketball team.