With the recent school year start, students are now getting settled into their new routines and getting to know teachers and peers. Collegiate organizations across the nation are seeing students pledge to various fraternities, sororities and athletic teams. Following the initial pledge or try-out is when participants go through hazing rituals, designed to allow pledges to show their dedication to the organization. Activities range from humiliation to endurance, often including activities that pose a serious personal injury risk as part of the competition.
When hazing rituals go wrong, the risk of personal injury becomes staggeringly high.
That personal injury risk became all to real for ex-Clemson soccer player, Haley Hunt, in 2011 after trying out for the women’s soccer team. As a Freshman, she was forced to complete several demeaning acts as part of a “mandatory team activity” before being blindfolded and thrown in a trunk of a car. When she emerged, she was spun in circles and was forced to sprint down-field while still blindfolded. Unknowingly, she began running parallel to the filed and was encouraged to “run faster” by players conducting the activity. That’s when tragic personal injury occurred, she collided with a brick wall, face-first, causing a traumatic brain injury.
The university’s legal team denies any liability for the incident, stating her allegations have no merit. The personal injury lawsuit was filed in August of this year. Ms. Hunt was red-shirted her Freshman year and eventually quit the team in 2012, following advice to abstain from playing by a personal injury concussion specialist.
This story could have easily had a more tragic end. Now is the time to discuss with your children and loved ones beginning their undergraduate studies who plan on participating in team hazing activities such as these. College students do not think about personal injury. The pack mentality and the want to belong overshadow any doubts of safety in most young adults. Don’t let your student become the next personal injury statistic, discuss with them the dangers of hazing and that it is okay to refuse to take part in any activity they feel is too risky.