A rumble between members of the Lambda Chi Alpha house and its neighbor Sigma Phi Epsilon house at the University of Alabama was reported by the Tuscaloosa Thread‘s Stephen Dethrage.
One of the frat boys was arrested “after he allegedly stomped on another student’s head” during the fight.
The incident likely only made the news because of the arrest. Fighting among frat boys on campus is a University tradition. As recounted in the Franklin Stove Blog, here was an illegal duel in 1877 between members of Sigma Chi (ΣΧ) and Delta Kappa Epsilon (ΔKE) fraternities where the ΔKE member lost his life. Subsequently all fraternities on campus were disbanded for a period of time.
The use of alcohol has fueled such violence. Binge drinking by under-aged males is commonplace at fraternities. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in its report on college drinking addressed the problem of binge drinking. The NIAAA also reported that in 2004 “696,000 students ages 18 to 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that “excessive alcohol consumption increases aggression and may increase the risk of physically assaulting another person.”
MH magazine’s Derek Melnyk in 2018 wrote an article about the maturity of adult males in which he referenced a study by Dr. Sandra Aamodt. Aamodt opined that men “do not reach full maturity until age 25,” when the brain is fully developed.
The National Library of Medicine published a 2013 study on adolescent brain maturation. It said:
The development and maturation of the prefrontal cortex occurs primarily during adolescence and is fully accomplished at the age of 25 years. The development of the prefrontal cortex is very important for complex behavioral performance, as this region of the brain helps accomplish executive brain functions.
The study discussed behavioral problems associated with adolescents, including risk-taking behavior, the management of emotions and the effect of alcohol abuse on brain maturation.
The use of alcohol by immature students and the practice of “hazing” go hand in hand. A 2019 USA Today article by Max Cohen and Chris Quintana reported that there have been 250 hazing deaths at schools in America since the 1800s according to the Hank Nuwer Unofficial Hazing Clearinghouse.
The University of Alabama‘s student newspaper The Crimson White has an archive on hazing issues. The archive is likely not up to date. The 2015 hazing incident that involved the second and third degree burns of pledges who were ordered to submerge their feet into an ice filled cooler was better described by Al.com‘s Jeremy Gray.
The University of Alabama has a policy on alcohol use:
Individuals under 21 years of age are not permitted to consume alcohol or be in possession of alcohol. Alcohol paraphernalia (which includes but is not limited to: empty beer cans or bottles, shot glasses, etc.) are prohibited and considered a violation of policy. Individuals over the age of 21 may consume alcohol in designated areas on campus in a safe and responsible manner.
But no one seriously believes that there is no alcohol use on campus by students who are under 21 years of age. In fact, much of the social fabric of Greek life is predicated on alcohol use.
In all probability the rumble in which a student had his head stomped on involved frat boys under the age of 21 who were drinking. It is also very likely that if the University actually enforced its policy on alcohol use that the institution would no longer be able to brag that its “fraternity and sorority community is one of the largest and most vibrant in the United States.”