By Alexis Garrett Stodghill
Marie Lourdes André is suing the fraternity that killed her only son, George Desdunes, who died during a hazing ritual at Cornell University on February 25, 2011. She claims that the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity kidnapped him, forced him to drink to the point that his blood alcohol level was five times the legal driving limit, left him bound on a sofa for hours, and then tried to cover their tracks by removing the binds. The bereaved mother hopes her $25 million law suit against the frat will inspire much tougher regulation of frat houses and their absurdly dangerous hazing practices. It would give some purpose to the meaningless loss of her son’s life.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon had already come under fire at Cornell for its hazing manual which included “requiring new members to clean vomit out of a car, purchase illegal drugs and perform sex acts,” according to court documents reviewed by the New York Post. As Desdunes was a new member, he was forced to engage in similar self-destructive activities that tragically cost him his life. The Post describes this poor man’s last night — and the legal consequences of Desdunes’ death:
He was bound and quizzed about SAE lore, because members are required to know as much about the fraternity as new pledges are expected to learn, the suit says.
Members who miss a question are “compelled to drink alcohol, often while blindfolded and tied up,” according to court papers
“Hazing is wrong, immoral and extremely dangerous to the well-being of the fraternity members,” said lawyer William Friedlander, who filed the suit yesterday in Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Business Insider adds that since the untimely death of George Desdunes, “Cornell forced the frat to vacate the house and the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon organization shut down the Cornell chapter.” At least one formal step has been taken to administer justice. But it is not enough.
George Desdunes was a quiet soul, who loved church and majored in biology. His mother did not send him away to die. Hopefully, her $25 million law suit will terrify colleges, fraternal organizations, and the students engaging in these rituals to rethink their tolerance and perpetuation of brutal behavior. Common sense and compassion alone are not enough.