MY WORSE NIGHTMARE
And so this was the call I least expected but it was and is my worst nightmare. This was the call I learned my dear son was badly injured and was told by the ER doctor I should make my plans to fly up immediately. I was shocked when I saw him lying in the hospital already on life support. There he was helpless and I laid my head on his chest and cried and couldn’t believe this was happening. He was in this situation because of senseless hazing. Call it what you want, it’s not fun and games when someone gets hurt and loses his life so young; my son wasn’t even 20 years old. My family flew in and we were together and had to make that gut wrenching decision to take him off of life support.
I cried in the middle of the night at the hotel we were staying at. I sobbed so loud I woke my family up and we hugged one another. I cried so hard in the hotel lobby the following morning, a stranger came over and gave me a box of tissues. No parent should have to bury their son. Your child should be able to live a full life and those precious life moments of graduating from college and getting their first job and marrying and having children. As a parent this is what I wanted. Sadly he is gone and what a loss, he had so much potential. He attended college on an academic and athletic scholarship.
What is so sad is the story had changed twice until I head it was a “team building” activity. Hazing has to stop and the notion of “boys will be boys” is a feeble excuse for not getting involved and making changes to eliminate hazing. When will the university and the local chapter / alumni advisor(s) and the national fraternity (or sorority) stop pointing fingers and shifting blame? The university has sanctioned the fraternity at their university. The university cannot turn a blind eye and say it happened off campus. It may have happened off campus but you need to know what is happening with your organizations. You know about and heard of Hell Week. The national headquarters for the Greek organization needs to be held accountable for their chapters. Are you enforcing and following up with each and every chapter regularly? It’s not enough to have new members sign a form saying “I will not haze”. The local chapter / upperclassmen or women and the alumni associated with that local chapter need to be responsible adults and break that dangerous tradition and mentality of “I went through it so they need to go through it too”. You need to be leaders, you need to be accountable for each and every member you are bringing into your organization.
Was there more I could have done? It breaks my heart, I am still grieving and sad and angry he is not here to live his life. I didn’t know about hazing…I asked my son if it was safe but we didn’t know. And then you hear those comments that my son had a choice, he didn’t have to do what they told him to do to become a brother. He didn’t know he was going to be tackled out of nowhere. He thought his soon to be “brothers” and “big brother” were looking out for him and would keep him out of harm’s way.
And so as a mom, as a parent, I am asking the parents to have those conversations with your children, especially before they go off to college. Students, educate yourself on the dangers of hazing. You should not subject yourself to physical or emotional harm to belong to an organization. That is hazing, and hazing has to stop. Brothers and Sisters of Greek life, take a stand and stand up and make a difference. Say no to hazing and be the ones for positive change. YOU can save a life. You can be the change agent for good. It saddens me that so many young lives have been taken because of hazing, and not only at the college level in Greek life but in many clubs or bands or sports groups at the high school and even middle school level. So many of you are leaders and know right from wrong and are making a positive impact. Do the right thing and stand up to hazing NOW. Educate others and carry the torch of “anti-hazing and prevention”.
I will always be proud of my son and what he accomplished in his short time here on earth. I know he impacted so many people in a positive way and even when he died, his organs were donated to extend the lives of 6 individuals through organ donation.
Tell your loved ones you love them and live each day to the fullest because you don’t know when it will be your last day on earth. Make every day count.