Disclaimer: The information, articles, and tips portrayed on this blog, while based on research, do not constitute medical advice. The opinions expressed are meant to educate and inform, but not to dictate lifestyle choices or personal beliefs. These articles are meant to provoke thought on issues surrounding college health and to inform the Hopkins community of healthy information and resources.


Hazing, Drinking, and the Judge

On February 25, 2011, George Desdunes, a sophomore at Cornell was found dead in the SAE fraternity house.  The cause: alcohol poisoning and hazing.

To summarize the events:

George was a member of a fraternity.  The night of his death, George was kidnapped and driven to a house by the pledges, as part of a hazing ritual.  The pledges asked George and another kidnapped fraternity brother trivia questions.  For each wrong answer, George and his fraternity brother were forced to take a shot.  Shots were downed quickly and the fraternity brother with George even threw up a few times.

Eventually, George passed out.  He was then loaded into a car and brought to the fraternity house where it took multiple fraternity brothers to carry him in the house. They left George in the house library with his head tilted so he could vomit on the floor and avoid choking.

A few short hours later, at about 6:45am, the cleaning men came to the house and eventually discovered George's body and called 911.  It was too late by then.  The responders tried to revive him, but it was of no use.  George had died of alcohol poisoning and was found to have a BAC level of .35.

After a full investigation, 4 fraternity pledges were charged with misdemeanor hazing and one of the pledges was additionally charged with tampering with evidence when it was found that he called his roommate and asked him to throw away the evidence of the kidnapping from that night and other potentially worrisome material in his room.  In the end, the judge cleared the pledges of the charge, and found the chapter guilty as a whole.  The chapter has been fined the maximum sentence of $12,000 and is no longer a recognized fraternity at the Cornell campus.

After seeing the quick summary (for more details, click here), what are your thoughts?  If you were the judge, would you have done the same as the judge did or no?  If you were one of the members who saw George that night, what do you think you might have done?

While the story has a few unknowns, the ultimate question that comes around when each of these preventable alcohol poisoning deaths happen is "what stops bystanders from seeking help?".  Why didn't anyone take George to the hospital?  Or try calling 911?  Unfortunately, stories like George Desdunes are not so uncommon.  If you read the article, you'll see a few other cases like this one.  If you find yourself in the position of the bystander, where your friend has signs of alcohol poisoning, consider calling for help.  While the fear of getting in trouble may be there-- ask yourself if you can weigh it out over losing that person entirely.

Call HERO if you or a friend need help: 410-516-7777 or 911