Hazing's ugly side

In 1994 a hazing incident at Southeast Missouri State University resulted in the death of a student. Since then, there has been an annual Michael Davis lecture named in the victim's honor. The lecture brings to the campus leaders of national stature to discuss serious topics that we all confront in our lives.

In the wake of Davis' death, university officials cited the hazing incident as a negative factor in recruiting students from the St. Louis area, where Davis was from, and among black students in general. Davis was black.

Over the years, the university has made an all-out effort to overcome the stigma of the hazing death. Recent enrollment figures indicate that the effort was succeeding.

Then in February, there was another alleged hazing incident, this time involving a sorority for black students. Three students have been charged with hazing and assault. The national organization has suspended the sorority chapter's charter. The university is dealing with the students through the campus judicial process.

What is unsettling about all this is the fact that, in spite of the sobering lessons learned from Michael Davis' death, hazing has apparently occurred again on a campus that absolutely forbids the practice.

And it raises questions about the adult leadership and supervision that exists for all sororities and fraternities. Where were they? What did they know about the alleged hazing? What did they do to prevent it?

Southeast, like all colleges and universities, aims to provide a safe and nurturing environment for students whose parents are paying for their education or who are working while they pursue a degree. Hazing, or even allegations of hazing, can quickly ruin all the good that has been done since 1994. Students who have so little disregard for their fellow degree-seekers put the hard work and earnest efforts of the vast majority of students in the worst light.