Hazing: Why it happens and how to avoid it

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Nolan Burch will never be able to explain why he participated in a fraternity ritual at West Virginia University last year, where he was given a bottle of alcohol and told to drink.

The 19-year-old Williamsville native died as a result and now two of his would be fraternity brothers are facing hazing charges.

"I would describe hazing as words or actions that have a demeaning or derogatory effect," said Dr. Arthur Becker- Weidman, a psychologist who practices in Western New York.

Becker-Weidman says when it comes to victims of hazing, especially in a campus setting with young adults who are away from family for the first time and looking to fit in, it can be easy to go too far. And if you add alcohol to the mix, things can quickly spiral out of control.

"It can lead to fatal consequences."

And even if the end result of hazing isn't fatal, there is no question that it's dangerous.

"If you then become a member of the group there is a quality of 'I lived through it and it was fine,' so now you have to live through what I lived through," Becker-Weidman said.

The psychologist added that the responsibility, on some level, needs to fall on the universities to set limits.

Police have arrested Jordon Hankins of New Jersey, claiming he was in charge of the fraternity ritual the night Burch died.

Twenty-year-old Richard Schwartz of Buffalo was also arrested and charged with hazing. Police say he was Burch's "big brother" at the frat and gave Burch the bottle of alcohol.

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