Dear Ann Landers: I would like to respond to the letter from Rita Saucier, whose son died as a result of fraternity hazing. I am a 19-year-old college sophomore and very active in my fraternity, Delta Upsilon, at the University of Louisville. I am proud to say my chapter has managed to eliminate all forms of hazing. Unfortunately, we are a minority. Hazing is still going on in a great many fraternities around the country.
The only way to stop hazing tragedies is for the pledges to refuse to take part in any activity they consider hazardous. They should say flat out, “What you are asking me to do is foolish and dangerous, and I am not going to do it.” If that answer is not acceptable to the fraternity members, the pledge’s response should be, “Sorry, I’m going to have to find another fraternity.”
Being a member of a fraternity can be a very rewarding experience. It can forge a bond that will last a lifetime. The initiation process should be rational and safe. If you are told to run naked in freezing weather or chug-a-lug alcohol, simply refuse to do it. Others will follow your lead, and dangerous hazing practices will disappear. - A.D., Louisville, Ky.
Dear A.D.: What a sane and sensible young man you are. How good it would be if others followed your example. Keep reading for more on this subject:
Dear Ann: There are about 10,000 fraternity chapters on American campuses today. During my college days, I was a member of Delta Chi. At 21, I was an ensign U.S. Naval Reserve on active duty. By 25, I was the commanding officer of a Navy supply ship, responsible for 220 crew members and up to 200 passengers. My ship received a “well done” from Fleet Adm. King for rescuing a merchant ship from the arctic ice pack.
Delta Chi helped me grow up and assume responsibility at an early age. Sadly, when a few fraternity members do foolish things, it gets in the papers. The many good things accomplished are not newsworthy.
The English used to say their leaders grew up “on the playing fields of Eton.” I believe a great many young American men have grown up in their fraternities. I am one of them. - Fred R. Brooks, Santa Monica, Calif.
Dear Fred Brooks: My “well done” isn’t in the same league as the one you received from Adm. King, but here it is anyway. Thank you for writing.
Dear Ann Landers: I see you are back on the subject of fraternity hazing. I say, “Good for you.” Not nearly enough has been said about this senseless, barbaric practice.
I am still unable to get out of my mind the face of that handsome young man who was pledged to a fraternity at MIT last fall and died (I should say “was killed”) during the hazing process.
What more has to happen before all hazing, everywhere, stops? Please print my letter with a two-word response, “I agree” or “I disagree.” - Northwestern U. in Evanston, Ill.
Dear Northwestern: I agree.
Dear Ann Landers: I am writing this from the Cook County Jail, waiting to go to the state prison for 16 months. My crime? Driving my neighbor’s car without his permission. What do you think of a government that treats respectable citizens this way? - No Name, Please, Just Illinois
Dear No Name: When you drive a vehicle without the owner’s permission, it is commonly known as grand theft auto. In Illinois, this is a Class One felony. After you have served your time, I hope you will never again “borrow” a car.